No one can accuse the L.A. County Fire Dept. of failing in its patriotic duty.
While all fireworks are banned in the city of Los Angeles, they’re illegal only 357 days a year in L.A. County. The LACFD’s annual change of heart takes effect at noon on June 28 and expires at noon on July 6. That’s when you can buy Cherry Bombs, M-100s and Bottle Rockets from stands licensed by the State Fire Marshal.
However, if you’re armed with the patience to hack through bureaucratic red tape, you can reach for the big guns any time of year.
Credits for Pyro Spectaculars include the Pitt-Aniston wedding as well as Macy’s annual Independence Day show in New York. However, according to Capt. Anthony Penn of the LACFD’s fire prevention division, Pyro also handles most private shows in Southern California.
Ron Smith, Pyro’s director of sales and marketing, says his company provides perhaps a half-dozen private shows around July 4, with rates starting around $25,000 for a 15-minute presentation.
Other local pyrotechnic production companies include Zambelli Fireworks Internationale and Fireworks America. Technically, you could also tap a stunt man pal with a pyrotechnics license, but few are likely to carry the necessary $1 million in liability insurance.
You’re going to need property — a lot of it. You’re required to have 75-100 sq. ft. for each inch of fireworks shell, which max out at five inches. Bigger shells mean bigger, higher fireworks.
Smith says golf courses and private beaches are popular. If you choose the latter, your expenses will include the barge from which fireworks will be fired over the water.
Next, you have to get permission. LACFD battalion chief Devin Trone says it usually takes a week or less for approval.
“The good companies know what we’re looking for,” he says, citing fallout zones, firing ranges and current licenses as examples. Most likely, the LACFD will assign a fire safety officer to supervise the show. Expect to spend $115.42 for each hour they’re on duty.
Whatever you do, get your ya-yas out early: The sun goes down at 8:09 p.m. on July 4 and fireworks aren’t allowed after 10 p.m.
LACFD Fire Prevention Division
Zambelli Fireworks Internationale