Officials are reminding the public that the "You Light It, We Write It" inter-agency effort to crack down on the use of illegal fireworks in the Las Vegas Valley will resume over this year's Fourth of July holiday. Information about the initiative is available at www.YouLightItWeWriteIt.Vegas.
Only fireworks labeled "safe and sane" are allowed and only from June 28 through July 4 in Clark County and the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson when locally licensed and inspected fireworks stands are permitted to sell them. All fireworks, including those labeled "safe and sane," are a concern during the spring and summer months when the threat of wildland fire is highest in Southern Nevada. Neighborhood concerns about noise, litter, and the use of illegal fireworks purchased outside the Las Vegas Valley also are common. Partners in the "You Light It, We Write It" effort include Clark County, the local cities, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Nevada Highway Patrol.
"Safe and sane" fireworks include sparklers and fireworks that keep to a small, circular area on the ground and don't explode in the air. Illegal fireworks include firecrackers, Roman candles and sky rockets – any item made of highly combustible materials. Any fireworks purchased from vendors located outside Clark County are likely to be illegal, including those purchased from vendors in Pahrump, Amargosa Valley and the Moapa Band of Paiutes. Offenders caught using illegal fireworks in Clark County and the city of Las Vegas are subject to fines of $250 to $1,000 and disposal fees. Fire inspectors from both jurisdictions will team up with Metro police officers again this year over the July Fourth holiday to crack down on the use and possession of illegal fireworks in local neighborhoods.
"We're putting people on notice not to buy illegal fireworks because if we catch you using them in our local neighborhoods you will be fined," said Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick. "Illegal fireworks are dangerous, and the noise causes a lot of distress to many of our residents including seniors, children, pets and people with post-traumatic stress."
As part of the "You Light It, We Write It" effort, the public is encouraged to report illegal fireworks complaints online at www.ISpyFireworks.com instead of calling 911 or 311. In 2019, the ISpy site logged 16,943 complaints from June 28 through July 5, including 14,237 on July 4. Reports to the ISpy website do not result in a police dispatch. Instead, the data is used to document problem areas and plan future law enforcement efforts. Officials remind the public that 911 should only be used to report life-threatening police, fire and medical emergencies. The public may call 311, the police non-emergency number, to report illegal fireworks usage complaints but callers are asked to exercise patience, especially on busy nights like the Fourth of July, when dispatchers must prioritize emergency responses.
"We want everyone to have a happy and safe Fourth of July, but the use and abuse of illegal fireworks is a serious public safety hazard in our community," said Clark County Commission Vice Chairman Lawrence Weekly. "Fireworks cause injuries and fires, and the misuse of 911 to complain about illegal fireworks could delay responses to accidents and other emergencies."
Officials say the best way to ensure that fireworks aren't illegal is to buy them from local vendors authorized to sell "safe and sane" fireworks during the permitted sales period. Fireworks sold at TNT or Phantom Fireworks booths this season have been tested and approved in the local jurisdictions, and the booths are inspected over the holiday for compliance. Officials also remind the public that all fireworks can be dangerous, even those labeled "safe and sane." Fireworks cause thousands of fires and injuries every year in the United States. In 2018 children younger than 15 years old accounted for 36 percent of the injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. No fireworks of any kind are allowed at Clark County Wetlands Park and other local parks, or on public lands in the region including Mount Charleston, Lake Mead and Red Rock.
In addition to reporting complaints about illegal fireworks to www.ISpyFireworks.com, residents are encouraged to help spread the word about the "You Light It, We Write It" effort by sharing agencies' content on social media and using the hashtag #youlightitwewriteit. Campaign materials are posted on the website including fliers in English and Spanish, fireworks safety tips, and TV Public Service Announcements. One PSA features interviews with local residents, including a 1 October survivor, impacted by the sudden and unexpected noise from illegal fireworks. Another PSA, produced with assistance from The Animal Foundation, highlights the impact that the use of illegal fireworks has on pets. The shelter's population typically increases by hundreds of pets over the Fourth of July holiday because of fear and anxiety caused by the noise. Most of the lost pets are never reclaimed.
The "You Light It, We Write It" website also offers a list of professional July Fourth holiday fireworks shows that have been approved by the County. Due to concerns about COVID-19, officials recommend that people practice social distancing and wear face coverings if they plan to watch public fireworks shows or host any small gatherings outside their homes using safe and sane fireworks. The following safety tips also are recommended for people planning to use safe and sane fireworks:
- Be Courteous: Let your neighbors know ahead of time if you plan to celebrate with fireworks so the noise doesn't surprise them.
- Be prepared in case of fire. Have a pre-connected garden hose handy.
- Use fireworks on flat, hard surfaces such as parking lots and cul-de-sacs away from buildings, vehicles, dry brush and bystanders. Place discharged fireworks into a bucket of water overnight to make certain they do not re-ignite.
- Keep close supervision on children and pets; maintaining a distance away from the fireworks that are being ignited minimizes the possibility of injury. Do not let children ignite fireworks.
- Beware of sparklers. These can be popular items to give young children, but they can cause clothes to catch fire and serious burns.
- Coordinate lighting the items so that everyone in the group anticipates when they will be set off and won't be surprised.
- Clean up litter left behind by fireworks.