As "safe and sane" fireworks go on sale today in unincorporated Clark County, officials are reminding the public that the You Light It, We Write It effort to crack down on the possession and firing of illegal fireworks in the Las Vegas Valley will continue through the July Fourth holiday. Information about the effort is available at www.YouLightItWeWriteIt.Vegas.
Only fireworks labeled "safe and sane" are allowed and only through July 4 in unincorporated areas of the county where locally licensed and inspected non-profit fireworks stands are permitted to sell them. No fireworks are allowed after midnight on July 4. "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.
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. In 2018, the ISpy site logged more than 25,000 complaints over the July 4 holiday. Enforcement teams of police and fire inspectors from the County, city of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas will be in local neighborhoods over the holiday issuing citations for use of illegal fireworks. Offenders may be subject to citations of up to $1,000 and possible fireworks disposal fees. Partners in the "You Light It, We Write It" initiative include Clark County, the cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Nevada Highway Patrol and the Nevada State Fire Marshal Division.
"Illegal fireworks are all fun and games until someone's house burns down or someone gets hurt," said Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick. "We know where the hot spots are from last year's data. We don't expect to catch everyone but we hope to make a bigger dent in the problem this year."
Reports to the ISpyFireworks website do not result in a police dispatch. Instead, the data is used to document problem areas and plan law future enforcement efforts. Officials also hope the ISpy site serves as an alternative to calling 911 and 311 to report complaints about illegal fireworks. The use of 911 should only be 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 enjoy a happy Fourth of July but the use and abuse of illegal fireworks present serious public safety hazards in our community," said Clark County Commission Vice Chairman Lawrence Weekly. "The risk of fires and injuries is significant, and the misuse of 911 to complain about illegal fireworks could delay responses to serious accidents and other emergencies."
Noise from fireworks often poses a serious nuisance and hardship to senior citizens, pets, veterans and people suffering from post-traumatic stress. Clark County produced Public Service Announcements for radio and TV to help publicize the You Light It, We Write It effort with agency partners. One PSA highlights the impact that the sudden and unexpected noise from illegal fireworks poses for seniors, veterans any people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The PSA features local citizens including a 1 October survivor as well Col. Cavan Craddock, commander of Nellis Air Force Base. An additional PSA was produced with assistance from The Animal Foundation to underscore the impact that fireworks noise 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 noise from fireworks. The TV PSAs are posted on the "You Light It" website and Clark County's YouTube site, and have been shared widely with local news media and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram NextDoor and other social media sites.
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. 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.
There are about 128 booths in Clark County permitted to sell "safe and sane" fireworks through the County's Building and Fire Prevention Department. Additionally, the department has approved permits for several professional fireworks shows over the Fourth of July holiday. A list of public shows is posted on the campaign website at www.YouLightItWeWriteIt.Vegas. Safety tips also are listed. Key recommendations include:
- 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. Maintain several five gallon buckets filled with water where you can place discharged fireworks.
- 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.
- Coordinate lighting the items so that everyone in the group anticipates when they will be set off and are not surprised. Clean up litter left behind by fireworks.
- 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 hot enough to cause clothes to catch fire or cause bad skin burns when used.