As City of St. Louis residents prepare for the Independence Day weekend, the City Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD), Fire Department, and City of St. Louis Department of Health are reminding residents that shooting off fireworks in the city is both illegal and dangerous. Every year across the country, about 10,000 people are treated for injuries in hospital emergency departments due to the mishandling of live, misfired and waste consumer fireworks.
“Heading into the Fourth of July, public safety leaders are coming together to remind St. Louisans that setting off fireworks in the City is both illegal and dangerous,” said Interim Public Safety Director Dr. Dan Isom. “Stay safe by enjoying one of our region’s great fireworks shows, like the one Downtown in Kiener Plaza.”
Setting off fireworks is against the law in the City of St. Louis, and extended periods of dry weather create conditions for fires to spread more rapidly through communities. Last year during the 4th of July weekend, Fire dispatchers received 324 calls for service related to fireworks. There are two times as many fires reported on Independence Day than on any other day; 50% of those are from fireworks. Illegal fireworks take away time from first responders that would be better served protecting residents. In addition, fires resulting from fireworks cause over $100 million annually direct property damage across the country.
“Fires caused by fireworks create a bigger burden for our first responders and put them in danger,” says Fire Department Captain Garon Mosby. “Celebrate the 4th of July safely by attending the Fair St. Louis fireworks display Downtown or other safe, professionally produced shows.”
Along with increasing the likelihood of physical injuries including burns and lost appendages, illegal fireworks can be major triggers for veterans and others experiencing PTSD.
“As an Air Force Veteran, I ask the people of St. Louis to think about our veterans who may suffer from PTSD before they set off dangerous fireworks this year,” said Director of Soldiers Memorial Military Museum Mark Sundlov, who is an Air Force veteran. “As you celebrate our country and those who fought for our freedoms, show veterans respect by leaving fireworks to the professionals.”
The City of St. Louis Department of Health, which oversees the health and welfare of both humans and animals in St. Louis, encouraged all family members to protect themselves this holiday weekend.
“Keep your family safe while you celebrate,” says Department of Health Director Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis. “COVID-19 continues to spread at a high level in our community. If you plan to gather with friends and family, it’s best to test yourself for COVID-19 before celebrating and if you feel sick, stay home and celebrate safely,” says Hlatshwayo Davis.
The Fourth of July weekend can also impact St. Louis pets and their owners. Loud noises and bright lights can heighten anxiety for some pets. Owners are encouraged to bring their pets inside to a room with the curtains closed to minimize the sound and light from celebrations. Pet owners should also make sure the pet wears its identification and that its microchip information is up-to-date to prevent long-term separation. The American Veterinary Medical Association has made additional tips available for pet owners.
In 2021, SLMPD issued 20 citations and made two arrests related to illegal fireworks usage. As in years past, SLMPD will deploy firework details in districts across the city for citations but will continue to focus on preventing violent crime. To report illegal firework usage, residents should call the non-emergency line at 314-231-1212.