AURORA, IL — Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin gave a stern warning Tuesday to residents thinking about setting off fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July and the easing of lockdown restrictions, after a huge increase in fireworks-related 911 calls in recent weeks.
The city's 911 dispatch center has seen a 170 percent uptick in fireworks calls over the past month, Irvin said, slamming those who are setting them off.
The almost-nightly, impromptu fireworks displays are ruining the quality of life in neighborhoods across the city and wasting taxpayer dollars on "senseless" and dangerous entertainment for a few, Irvin said.
"Before we head into the holiday weekend, I want our residents to really think twice about lighting off fireworks and the unintended consequences of doing so," Irvin said Tuesday during a news briefing at City Hall.
"I need you to understand how your actions are impacting so many people are you in your neighborhoods," Irvin said before telling residents they could face up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine for selling, having or using fireworks in Illinois.
Irvin spoke about 911 calls from veterans, parents, seniors and others who are being awoken "in the middle of the night with random explosions and rapid fire."
"Can you imagine this being your family member having to go through this over and over again, night after night, weeks and months before the Fourth of July?" Irvin said. "Aurora, we can do better; we must do better."
Aurora Fire Chief Gary Krienitz spoke Tuesday of the dangers of lighting fireworks in the city, saying it is very easy for a Roman candle or mortar to tipping over or ricochet toward people and cause injuries.
Most firefighters "have seen kids with their fingers blown off, have seen kids and adults lose eyesight," Krienitz said.
"Do we really need to have life-changing disabilities and injuries, just 'cause we're goofing around with fireworks?" he added.
Krienitz also warned that small fires started by fireworks can easily cause severe injuries and damage to homes if unnoticed.
"Let's think about others and not just ourselves when we're goofing around with fireworks," Krienitz said.