By Joe Gorman
Volume is a word with double meaning when it comes to answering fireworks calls, some police chiefs say.
First there are the loud noises generated by some of them.
Then there is the large number — or volume — of calls that come in for officers on the road to handle.
And to top that off, other calls, such as fights or domes- tics or robberies, will be answered before a fireworks call, although an officer will go to the scene at some point, even if they are backed up on calls, said Youngstown Police Chief Rod Foley and his counterpart in Boardman, Jack Nichols.
“It’s not always the highest priority, but if we’re called out, we’ll deal with it,” Foley said.
Foley said officers seized a large number of illegal fireworks last year. He said he’s more concerned about loud parties that take place over the holiday that generate a lot of noise and traffic that tend to disrupt neighborhoods. Officers will respond to a fireworks call, but depending on other calls, they may not be there until well after the fireworks have stopped.
Nichols said that during a typical July Fourth, the township’s dispatch center is swamped with fireworks calls. He said officers have to witness the fireworks being used in order to cite someone because it is a misdemeanor.
“It [offense] has to be committed in our presence,” Nichols said.
Sometimes people are given a warning. but if police come back and see fireworks shot toward a house or used improperly, then a citation will be issued, Nichols said.
Nichols said it is hard to answer all the fireworks calls in a timely manner because there are so many of them, and other calls will take priority over a fireworks call.
Struthers Chief Tim Roddy also said his department prioritizes fireworks calls as well, but he added there are no warnings if an outdoor display is overboard.
“If it’s out of control, we’ll cite and confiscate,” Roddy said.
Roddy said a lot of his department’s fireworks calls are not on the Fourth itself but the days leading up to and after the holiday or after 11 p.m.
Consumer-class fireworks, including bottle rockets and Roman candles, can be purchased in Ohio by anyone 18 or older, but they cannot be used in the state.
Instead, they must be taken over the state’s borders within 48 hours of purchase.
The illegal possession or discharge of such fireworks can result in a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
Novelties, including sparklers, snakes, smoke bombs and snaps, are legal for backyard use.