NORWALK — The city will conduct an intensive education program to make residents aware of the dangers of illegal fireworks as well as the proper handling of legal fireworks for the July 4 holiday.
The City Council Jan. 5 unanimously approved the enhanced fireworks education and enforcement campaign, under discussion since Dec. 1.
Public Safety Manager Joshua Yordt said the plan stemmed from discussions on how to address the use of illegal fireworks, enforcement of fireworks violations, educating the public on the use of fireworks and dissuading people from using illegal fireworks.
Yordt said the plan calls for mass circulation of educational materials on dangerous or illegal fireworks with fliers disseminated through the schools, at Neighborhood Watch meetings and community events as well as the usual publications such as Norwalk Now city newsletter, Norwalk’s cable television station, Facebook, Twitter and the city website.
Alternatives to fireworks, such as a city-sponsored event, also will be discussed.
“We plan an earlier start this year, beginning in early May instead of June,” Yordt said in a report to the council.
City Manager Mike Egan said a ban on the sale of legal fireworks was never on the table, although the proper handling of all types of fireworks will be noted.
A poster proposed by a public relations firm, Tripepi, Smith and Associates of Orange County, shows a hand with a thumb missing and a finger damaged from unsafe handling of fireworks with a slogan “Use Your Head, Keep Your Hand.”
The council rejected a public survey, costing about $25,000, to get community input on fireworks use.
“Why ask people if they enjoy breaking the law,” Mayor Leonard Shryock asked.
Yordt said part of the campaign will seek to explain the difference to residents between illegal and legal fireworks. Also noted will be the effects of fireworks on pets.
Enforcement against illegal fireworks will be strengthened and the consequences of using illegal fireworks will be noted.
There will be a focus of “hot spot” saturation patrols weeks leading up to July 4, with additional personnel from the Norwalk Sheriff’s Station.
Deputies will have the discretion of arresting or issuing citations to those using illegal fireworks.
Public Safety Director Carlos Ramos said his department will provide “high visibility” throughout the city, especially at hot spots that often attract users of illegal fireworks and at block parties approved by the city.
Residents will be asked to observe and report the use of illegal fireworks to the Sheriff’s Department.
Generally, illegal fireworks may fly into the air, endangering roofs, while legal fireworks do not leave the ground.