Even though complaints of fireworks use in the city of Eau Claire dropped slightly from 2017 to 2018, Eau Claire police will continue to enforce the zero tolerance policy they enacted last year.
“There was a little bit of a reduction but we are still hearing from our neighborhood associations about the time of day fireworks are being set off and concerns with our veterans over post-traumatic stress disorder,” Eau Claire police spokeswoman Bridget Coit said.
With the zero tolerance policy, you will get a citation if an illegal fireworks complaint is issued and you are located, or if officers on patrol find people using illegal fireworks.
The citations for discharging and possessing illegal fireworks come with a $213 fine.
Police became more concerned about illegal fireworks complaints starting in 2014.
In 2013, Eau Claire police received 78 complaints of illegal fireworks. That jumped to 109 complaints both in 2014 and 2015, 128 complaints in 2016 and 159 complaints in 2017.
There were 124 complaints for illegal fireworks last year, Coit said.
According to city ordinance, the following fireworks are legal to possess in city limits:
• A sparkler on a wire or wood stick not exceeding 36 inches in length or 0.25 inch in outside diameter, which does not contain magnesium, chlorate or perchlorate.
• A device designed to spray out paper confetti or streamers and which contains less than one-quarter grain of explosive mixture.
• A device designed to produce an audible sound but not explode, spark, move or emit an external flame after ignition and which does not exceed 3 grams in total weight.
• A device that emits smoke with no external flame and does not leave the ground.
• A cylindrical fountain not exceeding 100 grams in total weight with an inside tube diameter not exceeding 0.75 inch, designed to site on the ground and emit only sparks and smoke.
• A cone fountain not exceeding 75 grams in total weight designed to sit on the ground and emit only sparks and smoke.
But if you need it put more simply, Coit provides this perspective:
“Anything that really flies or makes a loud noise is going to be illegal,” she said.
Four illegal fireworks citations were issued in 2017. That jumped to 16 citations last year with the new zero tolerance policy.
“That number might seem low because of the number of complaints received, but sometimes it’s hard to get specific information to issue a citation,” Coit said. “That way our officers can respond as best as possible.”
“We want people to have a wonderful time during the holiday season, but it’s apparent neighbors and community members are concerned about the increased use of illegal fireworks,” she said.
Coit said the complaints usually start about a week before July 4 and nearly diminish about a week after the holiday.
“People are expecting fireworks on the Fourth of July,” she said. “But they’re not expecting it when it goes off at 11 p.m. on a Tuesday night two weeks before the holiday.”