The airport in Bishop could be quiet this Fourth of July.
The rising cost of fireworks, the incredible amount of manpower required and dwindling donations are major factors in the Bishop Volunteer Fire Department’s decision of whether to have a show this year.
Fire Chief Ray Seguine said the volunteers will decide at their next meeting on Tuesday, May 17 if the sky will be full of the flowers of fire this Fourth.
At Station House 3 on May 6, Seguine explained that the volunteers have received two bids for firework displays this year, one for $29,000 from the same company that provided pyrotechnics last year, and at the same price. But, he said the cost of fireworks continues to go up, so the same priced show as last year will mean a smaller show in 2011.
He said last year, there was less take at the gate for the show, and the department just barely broke even.
“It takes the entire department to do the show,” Seguine said. Not only does a large crew handle the show itself, he explained, but another crew has to be available to answer other calls on an already busy weekend.
He noted that there is also a huge clean-up at the airport, that is done the next day, in sweltering Owens Valley July heat on a black asphalt tarmac.
Seguine added that he has gone on record as saying he is not a fan of fireworks, and expounded by saying, “One of the biggest problems is the garbage left in the streets the morning after.”
He said not only do the piles of works present potential risks – such as kids collecting dud fireworks to try and modify them into something that could result in an even more dangerous product – but they’re also unsightly and require manpower to clean up the mess.
Seguine also made the announcement at the Bishop City Council meeting on May 9 stating that many of the traditional donors, such as the Paiute Palace Casino, Sierra Lifeflight, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, are still on board for a show. But the volunteers still have to manually put on the show and make monetary contributions as well, Seguine said.
He added that he understands why many people choose not to pay to get into to the airport to watch the fireworks display, with the mass of crowds and noise. He added that the volunteers do receive some donations from those who watch the show from outside the airport without paying the admission price.
“Someone suggested we send a motorcycle crew down the canal to collect from people watching there,” Seguine said with a chuckle. He added that collection buckets set up at area businesses last year will not be deployed this year due to a variety of problems.
“People need to know their contributions are important,” Mayor Laura Smith said. The price has remained $20 a carload for years.