Sales of "safe and sane" fireworks begin at noon today in Newark and Union City, continuing until Fourth of July evening.
But if you're not a resident of those two cities and you plan on buying them to celebrate the Fourth locally, chances are you'll be firing them off illegally — and could be fined or even face jail time — because most Alameda County communities have banned fireworks.
The legal fireworks — which bear a seal of approval from the state fire marshal — typically are described as those that neither explode nor leave the ground when they are ignited.
They are sold and legal to use in only three county communities — Dublin being the third. Residents in other communities — including Castro Valley, Fremont, Hayward area, San Leandro and San Lorenzo — have been warned that the use of any fireworks is prohibited.
"There is a zero-tolerance policy," said deputy fire chief Demetrious Shaffer of the Alameda County Fire Department.
Even in some communities where fireworks are legal, the "safe and sane" products are not to be altered and can be used only on private property. That means they are prohibited in parks and parking lots. They also can be used through Sunday.
In Dublin, fireworks can be used in front of single-family homes. They can also be used on July Fourth at Alamo Creek Park, Dublin Sports Grounds, Emerald Glen Park from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
"The rules are meant to protect, not inhibit," Shaffer said.
Fireworks should be used only under adult supervision, and users always should have a bucket of water nearby just in case a fire ignites, he said.
"Even though they are called 'safe and sane,' they still involve fire," Shaffer said.
Various nonprofit agencies throughout the area are involved in the sales of fireworks. In some cases, they are the primary source of income.
In the days leading up to the Fourth of July, police in some cities will be on patrol looking for people using fireworks. Fire departments will be fully staffed to handle any fireworks-related fires or injuries.
"It's a great time to celebrate and we want everyone to do so safely," Shaffer said.
Contact Ben Aguirre Jr. at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/benaguirrejr.