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Officials highlight firework safety ahead of Fourth of July holiday

People watch distant fireworks from a park on July 4, 2022, in Kansas City, Missouri.
Charlie Riedel
People watch distant fireworks from a park on July 4, 2022, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Officials are reminding Little Rock residents that unauthorized firework displays are illegal inside city limits, and cautioning them against overloading the city’s 911 system with fireworks complaints on the Fourth of July holiday.

Little Rock Police Chief Heath Helton held a briefing at City Hall Wednesday, urging residents to email their fireworks complaints rather than calling the city’s emergency number.

“Every year we get several calls and complaints about fireworks violations, and investigating these types of complaints often causes us to divert resources away from other activity and prevention methods, like looking for impaired drivers on the roadway,” Helton said.

Residents are encouraged to email LRPDFireworksViolations@littlerock.gov to report complaints, or to call the city’s non-emergency number at (501) 371-4829. Helton says 911 should be called in case of emergency, or to report gunfire. The email address will be active until July 8.

People found illegally setting off fireworks could have them confiscated, and could receive a citation to appear in court. Juana Holmes-Green, director of the city’s 911 emergency communications center, says the holiday can be an especially busy time for first responders.

“Last year we received 120 emails on the Fourth of July reporting firework violations,” Holmes-Green said. “Additionally, we received 971 911 calls… and this was nearly a 200-call increase from the average call volume on other days throughout that month. Using the email address will help us with maintaining efficiency, and ensuring our resources are available to respond to emergency situations.”

While private fireworks displays are illegal in the city, Little Rock Assistant Fire Chief Phillip Durham says residents should follow basic safety rules should they choose to set off fireworks.

“Always set them off in an area away from structures and vegetation. Have a bucket of water or a garden hose on hand to help put fires out, or to put water on misfired fireworks. Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks, especially including sparklers,” Durham said.

Durham says the Little Rock Fire Department responded to 102 calls on Independence Day 2023. The city also received 120 email complaints as well as 971 calls to 911.

Residents are also encouraged to keep animals inside. Should pets escape, residents should bring current photos, vaccination records or any other identifying information to the Little Rock Animal Village to help return lost pets to their homes.

Little Rock's official Fourth of July celebration, Pops on the River, is set to begin at 5 p.m., with a fireworks display at 9:15.

Daniel Breen is News Director of Little Rock Public Radio.