Firework complaints in Raleigh up more than 600% compared to last year as people report hearing them more often

Monday, June 29, 2020
Firework complaints in Raleigh up more than 600% compared to last year as people report hearing them more often
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Firework complaints in Raleigh up more than 600% compared to last year as people report hearing them more often

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Fireworks complaints have gone up during the COVID-19 pandemic in Raleigh and in some other cities across the United States.

The Raleigh Police Department reports there were 16 fireworks complaints from June 12 to June 25 of last year. During that same time period this year, there have been 105 complaints, almost seven times more than last year.

One woman described the fireworks in her neighborhood near Euston and Millbank Streets on June 25, when she called 911 to report illegal fireworks.

"There's been a few here and there tonight," she said. "But there's a few right behind our house that, like, some big mortars started going off in."

In New York City, there were nearly 267 times more fireworks complaints from January through June 28, compared to the same time period last year.

In Chicago, there have been more than eight times as many fireworks complaints from January through June 21, 2020 compared to complaints during the same time frame in 2019.

Ivon Johnson, a fire and life safety educator with the Raleigh Fire Department, said more people may want to put on their own displays during the pandemic.

"During the current situation we're in with the pandemic, you're going to have more people at home looking for things to do," Johnson said. "So ultimately, they have to realize ok, what's not allowed, what is allowed. With that being said, we know people want to use fireworks, they need to make sure they do it in a safe manner."

There are legal fireworks you can ignite in North Carolina, but it's against state law to use any firework that explodes or is projected into the air.

"Ultimately we would tell people not to use them at all, go see your professionals do it but this year, that may not be the case in your area, so they may try to purchase their own," Johnson said. "So based on consumer product safety, when doing so, you have to realize that 12 people died last year from fireworks."

The Durham County Sheriff's Office said they had one excessive noise complaint related to fireworks from June 12-June 28 of this year and none last year.

The Wake County Sheriff's Office has had 21 fireworks complaint calls from June 12-June 25 this year and only two in that period last year.

"This can't attribute a specific reason for the increase in fireworks use, however we do know fireworks were used against the WCSO doing the recent civil unrest In downtown Raleigh," said the Wake County Sheriff's Office. "Furthermore, the WCSO anticipates an increase in illegal fireworks use this year, in light of the cancellation of public fireworks events conducted by professional pyrotechnic companies."

Johnson has these safety tips:

  • Never allow children to ignite fireworks
  • Have a source nearby to put them out, such as a bucket of water or hose
  • Don't set off fireworks near homes
  • Never try to relight fireworks
  • Never point fireworks at someone
  • Wear goggles, ear protection and something to keep your hands from burning
  • Stand 50 feet or more from anything combustible
  • Light one firework at a time

Click here for more safety tips.