Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart is calling for a comprehensive plan to deal with the problem of illegal use of fireworks in our neighborhoods.
It is imperative that we address this situation as we approach the July 4 holiday. Over the weekend, media reports indicate a city resident suffered a serious hand injury. Last summer, a house in Barnhart’s district was severely damaged in a fire suspected to be caused by fireworks.
“There is every reason to believe the fireworks activity will get worse during this week. There is no reason to believe the activity will stop after the July 4 holiday,” Barnhart said. “We are looking at potentially more serious injuries or even loss of life, as well as property damage. What’s more, people just can’t take it anymore.”
Barnhart’s district is a hotbed of fireworks activity. A resident in Homestead Heights started a petition asking for a solution to the fireworks problem. This Google Drive folder contains video of fireworks in Barnhart’s Beechwood neighborhood. There are also photos of fireworks debris in the School #33 field, where people set off fireworks nightly. (Barnhart took all photos and videos. Media has permission to use with credit.)
To date, the police department has encouraged residents to call 911. Police and fire have responded to some – but not all – calls. This has proven to be an ineffective tactic. Many residents are also hesitant to call 911 and criminalize the activity.
Sheriff Todd Baxter’s team inspected tents selling fireworks at big box stores and determined the fireworks are legal. They also examined my video and photos of debris and determined that the fireworks featured are almost all illegal. Therefore, opting Monroe County out of the state law allowing fireworks sales likely would not solve this problem.
“I am not criticizing the police and fire departments. I am grateful for their work on this issue. The fact is, cities across the country are struggling to deal with this trend. We are just going to need a better plan. Our neighbors are demanding one,” Barnhart said.