Fire officials may put damper on ’99 fireworks | SierraSun.com
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Fire officials may put damper on ’99 fireworks

Sherry Mays

Personnel safety and the ability to respond to the West End Beach are the main concerns of local fire officials, who say if there isn’t more organization for next year’s Fourth of July events, they won’t agree to the permit for the fireworks display.

“We (fire officials) need to get together with the town, the chamber of commerce and the sheriff’s office to discuss how we can prevent the same incident (riot) from happening next year,” Chief Mike Terwilliger of the Truckee Fire Protection District said. “I’m serious, if there isn’t consideration about how to control the event, we aren’t going to sign the permit.”

Terwilliger said that too many people in too confined an area set the stage for a potential disaster, and he said he doesn’t want crews to be put in a potentially dangerous situation.

He said the fire district faces the same concerns as the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office in that personnel must be available to respond to incidents away from the nucleus of the holiday’s events.

“We still have to respond to medical aids and other calls around town,” he said. “Resources become thin. With added traffic problems and the possibility of hostile crowds, this might not be possible. Our priorities encompass the entire area. That’s what we have to look at and so should the town.”

Terwilliger added that the celebrations attract too many visitors, limiting the effectiveness of the limited number of law enforcement officers.

“It is the responsibility of law enforcement to secure these types of events,” he said. “The fireworks have become too popular and the event has moved away from a family celebration to a party scene. I would rather see it canceled.”

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Battalion Chief Bryce Keller said he echoed Terwilliger’s concerns.

“I have definite concerns about putting our engine companies and personnel in harm’s way,” he said. “My crews, as well as Truckee’s crews, must stay safe – first and foremost.”

Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.com

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