With "safe and sane" fireworks going on sale June 28, officials are reminding the public that anyone caught using illegal fireworks may face citations and fines as part of the "You Light It, We Write It" campaign, www.YouLightItWeWriteIt.Vegas. Residents also are asked to report complaints about illegal fireworks online at www.ISpyFireworks.com instead of calling 911.
Only fireworks labeled "safe and sane" are allowed in Clark County and the neighboring cities and only from Sunday, June 28, through Saturday, July 4, when 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. Officials said 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. 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.
"We want everyone to have a happy and safe Fourth of July, but the use and abuse of illegal fireworks each year is a big public safety concern in our community," said Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick. "Just because you can buy illegal fireworks outside of Clark County doesn't mean you should use them here. They are dangerous and illegal, and you will be cited and fined if you are caught lighting them."
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 accounted for 36 percent of the injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Fireworks also are a hazard in our desert climate where the threat of wildland fire is extreme. 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. Noise from illegal fireworks also is a significant source of distress for many residents including seniors, children, pets and people suffering from post-traumatic stress.
Litter and air pollution are additional problems. Offenders caught using illegal fireworks are subject to fines of $250 to $1,000 and disposal fees. Fire inspectors from Clark County 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.
The "You Light It, We Write It" " effort also asks the public to report illegal fireworks complaints online at www.ISpyFireworks.com instead of calling 911 or 311. Last year, the ISpy site logged almost 17,000 complaints from June 28 through July 5, including 14,237 on July 4. Since June 1 this year, the site has received 4,170 complaints. Reports to the ISpyFireworks website do not result in a police dispatch. Instead, the data is used to document the problem and plan future law enforcement efforts. Officials remind residents 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.
"Illegal fireworks cause a lot of fear and frustration in our community, and we encourage people to go to the ISpy website to report complaints," said Clark County Commission Vice Chairman Lawrence Weekly. "The data from the site helps us document the problem and plan future enforcement efforts. It also was set up to help keep our 911 dispatch system free for emergency responses. The Fourth of July is always one of the busiest nights of the year for local police and firefighters."
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. Clark County's Building and Fire Prevention Department has issued permits to 110 booths in unincorporated County areas to sell "safe and sane" fireworks.
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 partnering 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. Watching fireworks displays from the safety of your own vehicle also is a recommended option. 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 on 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.