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Colorado first responders are working overtime to respond to fireworks complaints

Wheat Ridge Police patrol car
Posted at 4:15 PM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 21:12:39-04

DENVER — First responders around the metro area are working overtime this weekend to respond to fireworks complaints.

Despite being against Colorado law, bottle rockets, Black Cats and Roman Candles are still a common sight on major holidays like the Fourth of July.

"We really are actually trying to educate people and get them to understand that we would prefer that they attend a professional fireworks show rather than use their own fireworks," Denver Police Division Chief of Patrol Ron Thomas said Friday.

Not only can they be a nuisance to our pets and some of our neighbors living with PTSD, if not handled correctly, they can also cause a lot of damage.

"There's a significant risk for people to be injured, for property to be damaged, so I think it is something that we need to focus on," Thomas said.

Across the metro area, there are different ways to report illegal fireworks depending on where you live.

In Denver, for example, there's a fireworks hotline you can call (720-913-2059). You can also report them online.

But not every complaint police respond to ends with a citation.

"In order for us to issue a citation and make an arrest for illegal fireworks ... we would need a complainant to sign a complaint," Thomas said.

In Wheat Ridge, police are also working overtime, specifically to respond to fireworks calls.

"I took a look at our numbers this year, and [2019] to [2020] there was an increase of 70% in calls," Commander Jon Pickett said.

There are simply not enough officers, however, to respond to every single complaint, and there's not much they can do if the people making the complaints don't follow through.

"If people are willing to call the police and complain, we're asking them to also be willing to be a witness and let us know who's firing off those fireworks. Let us know who it is so we can write the ticket or enforce the law," Pickett said.

In Aurora, fireworks complaints are handled by the fire department, according to a police spokesperson. They typically field the online complaints and follow-up with investigations if necessary. Aurora police officers do not respond to complaints unless, for example, someone's house is on fire.

You should never call 911 to report fireworks, police say, because that will clog up dispatchers who may need to answer more important calls. Only call 911 if there's an emergency, like a firework injuring someone or setting something on fire.