Anyone who spots illegal fireworks and wants to make a complaint should report them at www.ISpyFireworks.com – and NOT call 9-1-1 or 3-1-1, officials announced today.
"It's important that we keep these telephone lines clear for life-threatening and other emergencies," said Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly.
Last year's Fourth of July celebrations generated so many calls into the local police and fire dispatch center that it caused a disruption of phone service which prevented many non-emergency 3-1-1 calls from being answered. 9-1-1 should not be used to report illegal fireworks. The misuse of 9-1-1 can delay emergency response to fires, serious accidents and other life-threating emergencies. The information reported to ISpyFireworks.com will help law enforcement document areas where illegal fireworks are being ignited for future enforcement action.
"It will be easy enough for our police and fire officials to see for themselves where the illegal fireworks are coming from and they will respond accordingly," said Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick. "This is a community problem that can only be addressed by all of us working together as a community."
In May, local police, fire and elected officials announced that they will be cracking down across the valley on the possession and firing of illegal fireworks to an extent that hasn't been seen in more than two decades. They warned that offenders are subject to $1,000 citations and may be liable for fireworks disposal fees running into the hundreds of dollars as well. To help get the word out, a public education campaign has been created around the slogan, "You Light It, We Write it." Information about the campaign is available at
www.YouLightItWeWriteIt.Vegas. A link to the www.ISpyFireworks.com site also is included on the campaign website.
Three-person enforcement teams will be deployed over the July Fourth holiday, and will be actively citing people for using illegal fireworks. Illegal fireworks also will be impounded. The teams will cite as many people as possible, officials said. Officers won't be able to cite everyone but the large deployment is expected to make a dent in what is occurring.
"There are too many injuries and fires attributable to illegal fireworks and it's time we put a stop to it," said Commission Vice Chair Chris Giunchigliani.
Fireworks are also responsible for numerous fires. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more than 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year.
"One reason for the crackdown is public safety, which concerns us all," said North Las Vegas Councilman Scott Black.
Fireworks were responsible for an estimated 11,100 injuries treated in U.S. hospitals in 2016, the most recent year statistics were available. Children younger than 15 years of age make up almost one-third (31 percent) of the injuries. The noise scares pets and can be disturbing to veterans and those suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Television public service announcements in English and Spanish were produced and provided to the local media to help promote the "You Light It, We Write It" effort. The spots are airing on Cox television stations and local government access stations. The Southern Nevada Regional Transportation Commission decorated a transit vehicle with a "You Light It, We Write It" bus wrap to help educate the public about the initiative. Electronic highway message boards also are being used in support of the effort. Residents are encouraged to support the campaign by sharing participating agencies' content on social media and using the hashtag #youlightitwewriteit.
"It has really gotten out of hand these last few years," said Commissioner Kirkpatrick added. "We need to get the word out that these fireworks are illegal for a reason and that it's time to stop. Citations are probably the most effective deterrent we have so those who are thinking of igniting illegal fireworks this year have been put on notice. If this doesn't work, the next step may be a wholesale ban on all fireworks except those at approved community events."