Fireworks going off illegally in your Tacoma neighborhood? Here’s how to report it

Tony Overman/toverman@theolympian.com
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July 4 is the busiest day for South Sound 911, Pierce County’s emergency communications agency.

At Tuesday’s Tacoma City Council meeting, Mayor Victoria Woodards implored residents to only call 911 in a true emergency, and not to call if they see fireworks set off illegally.

“When you dial 911 about a firework, you are then jamming up the queue for people who have real emergencies,” Woodards said.

South Sound 911 will launch an online reporting system for fireworks complaints. Residents in Tacoma, Sumner, University Place, Fife, Orting and Roy can report the illegal discharge of fireworks online at fireworksreport.com starting at 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

Those in Tacoma city limits also can report illegal fireworks through the non-emergency number, 311.

The online report requires a valid address where the violation occurred, the complainant’s name and phone number. If the location of the fireworks complaint is not eligible for an online report, the complainant will need to call the non-emergency line at 253-287-4455 or 800-562-9800.

Information collected by fireworksreport.com or the non-emergency line is passed to law enforcement agencies electronically or over the radio. Law enforcement agencies will determine whether a response is needed or if further investigation is required.

Those caught using fireworks in Tacoma could be fined $513 for the violation and have their fireworks confiscated. Gig Harbor and University Place permit the use of fireworks solely on July 4 from 9 a.m. until midnight, whereas Lakewood allows fireworks on July 4 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. In unincorporated Pierce County, fireworks can be released on private property on July 1 to July 3 from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., July 4 from 10 a.m. to midnight.

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Callers should report fires and injuries from fireworks to 911.

South Sound 911’s non-emergency line is best for police, fire or medical incidents that are not life-threatening emergencies, have no threat to property or a serious crime is not in-progress and an immediate response is not needed, such as a burglary with the suspect gone.

“Emergencies are always our number one priority,” South Sound 911 executive director Deborah Grady said. “Providing alternative reporting options offers both a convenience to our community and reduces the impact on our call takers, so they can focus on true emergencies and get people the help they need as fast as possible.”

According to South Sound 911 community relations manager Kris McNamar, some examples of when it’s best to call 911 are a shooting, stabbing, kidnapping, drowning, fire, heart attack, stroke, armed robbery, domestic violence, suicide threat, assault and overdose. It is best to call the non-emergency line with fireworks complaints, identity theft, noise complaints, found property and burglary that is not in-progress.

Calling the non-emergency line or filling an online report keeps the 911 lines (Tacoma uses tacomasafe.org for police reports) and staff available to handle incoming emergencies. If someone calls 911 with a non-emergent situation, the call will be transferred to the non-emergency queue.

Woodards also said at Tuesday’s meeting to stay on the line if you call 911. If you hang up a dispatcher will take the time to call you back, she said. In May, South Sound 911 received more than 20,000 law enforcement calls, of them 3,200 were 911 hang-ups or an open line.