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Lighting Fireworks? St. Louis-Area Police Say They'll Write You Up This Year

Fireworks and Fair St. Louis returned to the Gateway Arch Wednesday, July 4, 2018, for Independence Day celebrations in St. Louis on July 4, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio
Fireworks and Fair St. Louis returned to the Gateway Arch for Independence Day celebrations in St. Louis in 2018.

Police departments in St. Louis and St. Louis County are trying to deter illegal firework use this Fourth of July. 

Last year, St. Louis police issued just one citation for fireworks-related crimes on July Fourth, according to a department spokesperson. 

But the department announced in June that this Independence Day, officers will enforce local laws that prohibit the use of fireworks. 

“Offenders will be issued summons, and fireworks will be seized,” the department wrote on Twitter in mid-June. The department declined to comment about how enforcement might change. 

Anyone convicted of owning, selling or lighting fireworks could face a $100 to $500 fine, per city ordinance. 

In past years, the department has asked people not to light fireworks and circulated educational materials reminding people that fireworks are illegal. It also recommended that people attend professional fireworks displays instead of trying to light their own. The department said it will assign officers to respond to fireworks-related calls over the holiday. 

In 2018, fireworks caused an estimated 9,100 injuries treated in emergency departments nationwide, according to a June report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Children younger than 15 experienced more than one-third of the surveyed injuries nationwide. 

‘You Light It, We Write It’

The University City Police Department also wants to discourage people from lighting fireworks within city limits. The department is bringing back a campaign from last year: “You Light It, We Write It.” 

“We want people to understand that it’s illegal,” said University City Police Captain Frederick Lemons. “It’s a firework, it scares pets, and it can be traumatic for a lot of people who may be dealing with some type of traumatic stress syndrome.” 

It’s illegal to light fireworks in the central St. Louis County municipality at any time, but some people mistakenly think that fireworks are legal on the Fourth of July, Lemons said. 

Anyone who carries or lights fireworks in University City could face up to a $1,000 fine. 

Some areas, including unincorporated parts of St. Charles County, do temporarily allow certain fireworks over the holiday. But St. Louis County does not. Many cities also require permits for any sort of fireworks display. Illinois has a statewide law that requires a license from who buys or uses fireworks. People who violate the law could face prison time and steep fines. 

If you call to report someone misusing fireworks, police request that you provide an address and a description of the person. 

Follow Kae on Twitter: @kmaepetrin

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Kae Petrin covers public transportation and housing as a digital reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.