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City has Zero Tolerance Policy for illegal fireworks

Mike Conway

Post Date:06/20/2018

Turn in illegal fireworks, no questions asked

People possess illegal fireworks and want to get rid of them legally can dispose of them during the City's Safe Surrender Day Sat., June 30 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

'We're not going to ask any questions. We don't care how you got them, we just want them off the streets and out of people's homes,' said Merced Fire Chief Michael Wilkinson.

People can turn the fireworks in at Fire Station 51, the Fire Department's headquarters, located at 99 E. 16th St. Fire personnel will be on hand to take them and put them in a safe container.

'This isn't some sort of a sting operation,' Merced Police Chief Chris Goodwin said. 'This is a public safety campaign. Illegal fireworks are dangerous. They can cause fires, they can hurt people, they are a public nuisance. We just want people to know how they can safely get rid of illegal fireworks without setting them off.'

The City has cracked down on illegal fireworks and so far four people were arrested for the sale of illegal fireworks. The police and fire department have plans for holiday enforcement teams to patrol City streets during the Fourth of July holidays citing people for setting off illegal fireworks. Fines can range from $1,000 to $2,000 and there is the possibility of criminal prosecution.

Illegal fireworks are generally anything that explodes or leaves the ground, and doesn't have the California Fire Marshal's Seal of Approval. They would include firecrackers, barrel bombs, M-80s, skyrockets and mortars. They are commonly bought out-of-state and brought into California. It's also illegal to modify the 'safe and sane' fireworks that are sold in Merced.

People with questions about Safe Surrender Day can call 209-388-SAFE (388-7233).

Call 388-SAFE to report illegal fireworks

People are encouraged to report anyone they see or know who is buying, selling, distributing, possessing or setting off illegal fireworks by calling 209-388-SAFE (388-7233). Someone will answer the line as available, but all messages will be followed up on.

Please don't call 911 except to report a fire or injury. Part of the problem with illegal fireworks is that authorities usually receive multiple calls for any one offender. One neighbor setting off numerous skyrockets can swamp the 911 dispatchers with many calls on the same incident. The 209-388-SAFE number relieves pressure on the emergency dispatchers but still allows the illegal fireworks to get reported and acted upon.

On July 3 and 4 there will be a call center opened from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. and operators will be answering the phones and sending reports of illegal fireworks directly to dispatchers. The information will be forwarded to teams in the field.

In addition, people can report illegal fireworks by sending an email to Those emails will also get forwarded to authorities.

A third option is to report illegal fireworks using the Merced Connect app. The Merced Connect app is free and available at the Apple Store and Google Play. In addition to allowing you to report illegal fireworks, residents can obtain other information about City government.

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