Celebrate The Night was capped off by a professional fireworks display in Memorial Peace Park. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

Celebrate The Night was capped off by a professional fireworks display in Memorial Peace Park. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

One fine issued for discharging fireworks Halloween night

City of Maple Ridge gave 45 warnings, City of Pitt Meadows received three fireworks complaints

A single fine was handed out Halloween night for the illegal discharge of fireworks across the cities of Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows.

That ticket was issued by the Maple Ridge Fire Department in the late evening of Oct. 31, after they responded to what was initially reported as a structure fire but, after talking to an eye witness, turned out to be a cedar hedge that caught fire due to exploded fireworks.

A significant amount of resources were dispatched to the home in the 20300 block of Dewdney Trunk Road and the man received a $500 ticket said Maple Ridge fire chief Michael Van Dop.

Van Dop noted that every year the department receives multiple complaints about the discharge of fireworks and in anticipation this year had additional staff on to do evening patrols of areas. And, he said, they had some success in terms of interrupting a few fireworks displays.

The department worked in partnership with the city’s bylaws department, as well as the RCMP, both of whom had additional resources on, said Van Dop.

The challenge with patrols, though, is if it is a young person discharging fireworks in the streets, quite often they are long gone before somebody arrives, he noted.

Their target in terms of enforcing the fireworks bylaw is neighbourhood displays where people pool money to purchase enough fireworks to put on a display.

The fire department in Maple Ridge was called to 28 incidents from the after noon of Oct. 31 and into the early hours of the morning on Nov. 1, “a marked increase” from previous years, said Van Dop. Although not all the calls were Halloween-related.

But, he said, when they also have to respond to medical emergencies and car accidents, in addition to fireworks calls, it puts a lot of pressure on the department, said Van Dop.

“This does create an additional load that we really would rather not have,” he said, adding that the bylaw is in place for the betterment and the general safety of the citizens of Maple Ridge.

“They’re not just innocent displays,” said Van Dop of fireworks. “There is some real potential for damage and loss as a result of its use.”

Two Community Safety Officers were working until 11 p.m. on Halloween night and issued 45 warnings to youth and young adults, said Michelle Orsetti, City of Maple Ridge director of bylaws and licensing services. Additional education was provided and compliance was gained in all cases, she said.

The City of Pitt Meadows received a total of three complaints related to fireworks but no tickets were issued, said Carolyn Baldridge, manager of communications and community engagement. Last year they also received three complaints but one ticket was issued

“The city allocated additional resources this year to address fireworks complaints and bylaws officers attended all areas where activity was anticipated. They also proactively patrolled many side streets and city parks to enhance safety for children and families who were trick or treating,” noted Baldridge.

However , it is not practical for bylaw officers to be in multiple locations at the same time to address discharging of fireworks. Instead, Baldridge said, they were visibly present in areas where firework usage was most likely to occur.

“Our primary role is to proactively educate the community via social media, and by working with retailers who sell fireworks adjacent to Pitt Meadows,” she said.

READ MORE: BC SPCA urges federal protection of animals from fireworks

Pitt Meadows deputy fire chief Brad Perrie said they had a fairly quiet weekend with the exception of a hedge fire Saturday night that was most likely fireworks related and a stove-top fire Halloween night. They were not doing patrols but rather responding to incidents as needed. Patrols are up to the RCMP, he said.

Perrie noted that there were quite a few fireworks going off, but that they were everywhere including Maple Ridge, Port Coquitlam, and Surrey.

“There are bylaws to prohibit it. But unfortunately until they can stop the sale of them, they’re always going to be there,” he said.

RELATED: Fireworks illegal in Maple Ridge without permit

The Maple Ridge branch of the BC SPCA was also quiet. There were dogs that bolted from properties, said branch manager Krista Shaw, however, the people who found them returned them to their owners.

Const. Julie Klaussner, with the Ridge Meadows RCMP, said they received nine calls related to fireworks, “however those calls can also be categorized in multiple ways depending on the situation surrounding the call.”

“If officers attended fireworks calls they have a number of options at their discretion including education of the public, seizures of the fireworks and fines,” she said.

Klaussner did not have information readily available regarding the amount of fines or tickets that were issued by police Halloween night for illegal fireworks, but she said extensive patrols of schools and parks were completed in both the City of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge for fireworks and any public safety concerns.

And due to the safety of their police officers, noted Klaussner, they do not release staffing numbers of members on duty at any given time.

“The RCMP were appropriately resourced for the call volume that we had for Halloween,” she added.

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