Ventura County fire prevention inspecting firework shows

Ventura County Firework inspection

CAMARILLO, Calif. - The Ventura County fire prevention has been busy all morning inspecting each fire work display before the shows launch off Tuesday night.

Rod Torres is a Ventura County Fire Prevention Officer who is making his rounds to inspect certain firework display venues and make sure they meet not only the State requirements, but also Ventura County requirements.

“After the Simi Valley incident we took a very serious look at how firework shows are set up and fired, and we made some significant changes,” said Torres.

Back in 2013 Simi Valley experienced a 4th of July malfunction that sent debris into a crowd, leaving nearly 30 people injured. On that same night Ojai experienced something similar.

“We had another incident in the City of Ojai where an operator was injured while firing a show manually,” said Torres.

After that the Ventura County fire district decided to add to the requirements and take it a step further than what the State regulations were.

“Some of the specific requirements that we have that are more restricted than the State is the increase fall out zone," said Torres.  "We require 100 feet per inch so typically there will be between 400 to 500 feet between where the show is being shot and the audience.”

The State requires 70 feet. Peter Raftery who has been a pyrotechnician for over 25 years says this distance is key for a safe show.

“Also if there is a situation of the mortars were to fall horizontal so they were shooting sideways the crowd it far enough away that that shouldn’t be an issue,” said Raftery."

Also Ventura County shows will only be electronically fired. They do not allow manual launching.
Last year fire prevention had to cancel Camarillo's show last minute disappointing many.   

“We didn’t feel it was safe to do so. We were running behind schedule and there was other issue that led to us finally making the decision to cancel the show," said Torres.  "Today we are here a day early setting up and we feel that the company that was contracted by the city has tons of experience and make sure that at the end of the day we have a safe show.”

To make up for last year, the City of Camarillo plans to make this years show bigger and better. They plan to put on a 30 minute show instead of 20 minutes.

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