Local

Illegal Fireworks Keep Law Enforcement Hopping

OPB | July 4, 2013 11:23 a.m. | Updated: July 4, 2013 7:38 p.m. | Portland

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Fire and Police bureaus all over Oregon have additional enforcement duties Thursday, trying to head off illegal fireworks and related accidents.

At dusk Wednesday, Michael Silva of Portland Fire and Rescue scans the scene out his window and makes it official. “They’re starting,” he said.

Michael Silva of the Portland Fire & Rescue  (left) and Police Officer Rob Garrison (right) work together to spot illegal fireworks to create a safer city. 

Michael Silva of the Portland Fire & Rescue  (left) and Police Officer Rob Garrison (right) work together to spot illegal fireworks to create a safer city. 

Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / OPB

As the sun sinks, Silva and his partner for the night, Rob Garrison, begin a busy shift of driving around, responding to reports of fireworks that are banned in Oregon. 

Nine teams of inspectors and police are patrolling this weekend. Silva says the past few years, stepped-up enforcement has made a difference, but these are still busy nights.

“When they start going off, we go from one to the next, to the next,” Silva explained.

Garrison slams the vehicle door as the pair approaches an East Portland couple who have one spent Roman Candle on the ground in front of them, and a bag of other illegal fireworks in hand.

Legal fireworks bought in Vancouver are still illegal in the state of Oregon and can result in a fine.  

Legal fireworks bought in Vancouver are still illegal in the state of Oregon and can result in a fine.  

Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / OPB

The team confiscates illegal fireworks in paper bags and hand out citation after citation.

Silva hunches over the paperwork and points to the couple, “You can appeal this if you want to the Fire Marshal’s office.”

Garrison quickly adds, “This is not a criminal citation.”

Anyone caught setting off a banned display gets a $750 fine. Possession merits a fine of $500.

The man asks, “are these things like a traffic ticket?” Then he asks with a hopeful tone, “where you can’t get the same thing in twenty-four hours?”

Garrison replies with a flat, “No.”

“It will actually double, to fifteen hundred,” Silva said.

The man apologizes repeatedly, and explains he actually has a brother who works as a smoke jumper out of state.

Silva says most everything the team seizes comes from Washington State or from Indian reservations. Silva and Garrison advise sticking to fireworks sold in local stores and roadside stands, which are all legal.

Garrison tells them, “Alright guys, be safe and try to enjoy your Fourth.”

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