Getting Answers: police departments detail this year’s illegal fireworks response

Many communities actually reported a return to pre-pandemic levels after a significant drop in calls for illegal fireworks this year.
Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 6:33 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - A concerned viewer reached out to our Western Mass News Getting Answers line after he said he experienced a busy night of hearing illegal fireworks in his Springfield neighborhood on the Fourth of July.

Many communities actually reported a return to pre-pandemic levels after a significant drop in calls for illegal fireworks this year.

After the sanctioned fireworks shows around western Massachusetts on the Fourth of July, the viewer asked about the response to people setting off fireworks illegally in Springfield. He asked:

“Curious how many people were fined for fireworks in Springfield. They talk so much about it, but there seems to be very little enforcement by Springfield police.”

We took his questions to Springfield Police to get answers.

“Our officers were very busy last night,” Springfield Police Public Information Officer Ryan Walsh told us. “Fireworks do play a role in that, but if you’re not there right away to see it in action, unless there’s a big show going on, it’s difficult to fine or cite anyone.”

Walsh told Western Mass News that officers have the discretion to fine people setting off fireworks, and those fines are not logged in the police department’s system.

He also noted that there was a massive drop in calls for illegal fireworks received this year compared to in 2020 and 2021.

“Significantly down from the prior two years,” Walsh said. “We had about 100 calls yesterday until last night, compared to about 1,700 a year ago at the same time.”

We checked in with other local communities, including Chicopee, Westfield, and Ludlow, which also reported significant decreases.

“Being on a Monday plays a little role in that as well, but what we saw two years ago and a little bit last year was really out of control,” Walsh told us.

Over 32 hours, Springfield Police received 100 calls for fireworks. Walsh told us that there were more than 1,000 calls for service in the city.

“Springfield is a busy 911 driven city,” he said. “There are priority calls. If there’s shots fired, if there’s a medical incident, those take priority over some other calls.”

Walsh said they were projecting a return to these low call levels this year. In June, they only received 55 calls for illegal fireworks compared to over 2,000 at the height of the pandemic.