Tustin police urge safety on the Fourth of July


Fireworks are an integral part of Fourth of July celebrations, and the City of Tustin traditionally provides one of the best shows in the area.

Although it can be tempting, the Tustin Police Department urges residents to resist creating their own fireworks show, potentially putting themselves, friends, family, the neighborhood, and property at risk.

Instead, head to Tustin High School for the City of Tustin’s professional fireworks show, which is enjoyed by upwards of 9,000 residents and visitors each year.

Illegal fireworks put a strain on law enforcement on and around the Fourth of July. Last year, 53 calls for service were made to the Tustin Police Department on the Fourth of July alone. On holidays like the Fourth of July, it’s all hands on deck at the Tustin Department. Tustin Police Sergeant Sarah Fetterling says the department’s GRADE (Gang Reduction and Directed Enforcement) units will be on high alert to enforce fireworks laws.

All fireworks are illegal within the City of Tustin and violators could face an infraction citation, misdemeanor arrest, or felony arrest depending on the firework, according to the City. That includes so-called “Safe and Sane” fireworks, which also cannot be used in Tustin.

Safe and Sane fireworks are sold legally and can be set off in various cities in the county, including neighboring Santa Ana, as well as Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Stanton, Villa Park and Westminster. Each of those cities has very specific times, places and conditions in which the fireworks can be used.

In addition to safety, another concern with fireworks this year are the dry conditions caused by the state’s extended drought. An ember from a firework could cause a major wildfire.

“We’ve been in a drought,” Fetterling said, “It would be very dangerous to set off fireworks.”

This is particularly true in areas of Tustin that back up to open areas, such as along Loma Ridge.

“Each year serious injuries and millions of dollars in property loss occur from wildfires sparked by fireworks,” according to Cal Fire. “Large grass crops and dry vegetation increase the threat for devastating fires throughout all of California.”

Cal Fire notes that California has a zero-tolerance policy for illegal fireworks, which include sky rockets, bottle rockets, Roman candles, aerial shells, firecrackers, or any fireworks that explode, shoot into the air, or move on the ground uncontrollably.

Now that legal fireworks shows have returned, authorities are hopeful that illegal firework use will abate. However, Fetterling is not naive enough to believe that illegal fireworks won’t be set off in and around Tustin.

“It’s going to happen,” she said. “We hope it isn’t a catastrophe.”

To avoid potential flare-ups and see first-rate fireworks in comfort, the City’s show is the way to go, according to the police. This year, the gates to the Tustin High football stadium open at 4:30 p.m. The free entertainment includes a two-hour concert by 24K Magic, a Bruno Mars tribute band. The fireworks show, which starts at 9 p.m., is a full 25-minute extravaganza.

Not to be missed is the annual giant marshmallow fight where each year attendees toss the confectionery at each other. “There’s craziness before the sun goes down,” Fetterling joked.