Fireworks efforts aimed at lowering the boom

Police patrols, fines and good will efforts seek to keep firecrackers quiet

Posted 6/19/18

Thornton Police and Fire Departments hope their latest July 4 promotions become the must-have lawn decorations across the city. The red, white and blue signs simply remind residents that all …

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Fireworks efforts aimed at lowering the boom

Police patrols, fines and good will efforts seek to keep firecrackers quiet

Posted

Thornton Police and Fire Departments hope their latest July 4 promotions become the must-have lawn decorations across the city.

The red, white and blue signs simply remind residents that all fireworks — from bottle rockets and fountains to sparklers — are illegal in the whole city at all times and that people caught with fireworks in their possession face a $500 fine.

“In the past we’ve talked about injuries and fire prevention and really hammered home the fines,” Thornton Police spokesman Matt Barnes said. “This year, we’re working with veterans organizations and pet owners to do a coordinated, citywide effort to address the fireworks problems.”

Fireworks of all varieties are illegal in most of the area, including Northglenn and Thornton and police say they cracking down on violators.

“Our call load continues to go up and it looks like fireworks are more frequent this year and more of a problem, even in the weeks leading up the Fourth of July and the weeks after,” Barnes said. “So we are trying to coordinate with different organizations this year.”

Westminer’s rules are much more subtle but they are cracking down, too.

“They don’t really lend themselves to being printed on a sign,” Westminster Police Investigator Cheri Spotke said.

Westminster allows the more tame varieties — such as sparklers, fountains and spinners — but only during the Independence Day celebrations. They are allowed from noon July 3 to noon July 5 — unless a state ban, due to especially dry conditions, is in place. Outside of those days, they are as illegal in Westminster as they are elsewhere.

“It’s a statewide problem and it’s cultural and they are for sale in parts of the state,” Spottke said. “So it can be a difficult thing to deal with.”

Similarly, sparklers, fountains and their ilk are allowed to be used in the unincorporated parts of Adams county, per state restrictions. But explosive fireworks, like firecrackers and bottle rockets, are always banned, per Colorado law.

Fires, dogs and veterans

Fire danger is one of bigger problems. The state is already dry and ready to burn thanks to a hotter-than-average June, and fireworks make the threat more real. Spottke said the city had 14 fires reported between July 1 and July 8.

“Four were deemed to be caused by fireworks and the others were undetermined,” she said.

One was a fire in vegetation and another started in some rubbish.

“They may not have been a structure fire or a fire in anybody’s home, but that really doesn’t make it better.”

The noise is also a problem, both for veterans of the armed forces and for pets. Thornton is working with advocates for both groups to convince people to skip the fireworks.

“This year, the holiday is on a Wednesday, so I expect some people will be having to go to work the next morning,” she said. “So they probably don’t need to be bothered.”

In Thornton, the effort to curtail fireworks is bigger than ever. In addition to the yard signs, the city’s movable electronic sign is being placed around to remind residents that fireworks are illegal. The city has also printed up door hangars with that same message, and volunteers have been distributing them around the city.

“We will have special enforcement teams this year and their whole job will be to respond to fireworks complaints,” Barnes said.

Police will also be out in force through August hoping to curtail violators.

They are not trying to ruin anybody’s holiday, just enforcing the rules.

“We understand people want to be patriotic and fireworks are part of that,” Barnes said. “People really do think its their right to fire off fireworks. But we would love to get them to realize it infringes on the rights of others. We’re trying to pound that home, that we’d love people to be more considerate of their neighbors, the veterans suffering from PTSD and pet owners.”

Westminster will have increased police patrols, too.

“It’s usually a problem for us a week before the holiday and a week after, no matter what day of the week the holiday falls on,” Spottke said.

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