Elgin cracking down on illegal fireworks
By Dave Gathman firstname.lastname@example.org June 6, 2012 8:20PM
Firecrackers are illegal in the state of Illinois.
Fireworks injuries in Illinois 2011:
No. injuries by type of fireworks:
Bottle rockets 29
Roman cabndles 17
Other firecrackers 16
Smoke bombs 14
Cones, fountains 9
Fireworks displays 5
Homeamde fireworks 6
Jumping jacks 3
Other or unknown types 17
Types of injury:
Loss of fingers, hand, etc. 4
Loss of sight 9
Loss of hearing 4
First-degree burns 39
Second-degree burns 60
Third-degree burns 6
Broken bones 2
Sex of those injured:
Age of those injured:
Age 0-6 — 23
Age 7-10 — 18
Age 11-16 — 27
Age 17-21 — 21
Age 22 and over — 62
Unreported — 4
Body part injured:
Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office
Updated: July 8, 2012 6:51PM
ELGIN — In most Junes, the approach of Independence Day is heralded by a steadily rising number of little explosions in every neighborhood. But in Elgin, the police department is vowing that illegal fireworks won’t be tolerated this year.
“Fireworks complaints are on the rise, and we intend to curb the use of illegal fireworks by taking a zero-tolerance stance this holiday season,” Police Chief Jeffrey Swoboda said in an announcement released Wednesday.
In a message to his officers, Swoboda outlined the zero-tolerance stance after citing safety concerns as the primary call to action. In 2011, he noted, 155 people in Illinois were injured in fireworks accidents.
Included in that number were two Elgin children.
Witnesses told Elgin police that an 11-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother were both hurt after their father lit some fireworks in the 1200 block of Bristol Bay about 9:30 p.m. on the Fourth of July. Witnesses said one of the fireworks novelties fell and began shooting off pyrotechnics into a group of children standing nearby.
Both children were taken to Provena Saint Joseph Hospital in Elgin — the girl with burns to her leg and the boy with trauma to his left eye. The boy later was transferred to Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Reports about how well they have recovered are unavailable.
According to the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal, two people were killed by fireworks accidents in the state in 2011. One fatality occurred in McHenry County on New Year’s Day and the other in DuPage County on May 30. Both victims were unlicensed people using illegally obtained professional-grade fireworks.
Besides the injuries last year, firefighters were called to a home along Arthur Road in Algonquin on Independence Day weekend after fireworks started a garage on fire. Firefighters said celebrators apparently had been using a pile of construction debris leaning against the home’s garage as a launching pad for amateur fireworks and the pile started burning.
What’s legal, what’s not
“The Elgin Police Department wishes to remind residents that in Illinois, it is illegal to sell or possess consumer fireworks,” Swoboda said. “ ‘Novelty items’ such as snappers, party poppers and sparklers are allowed. But anyone found to be in possession of illegal fireworks will receive a citation and have the fireworks confiscated.
“While some may view the use of illegal fireworks as a minor issue, it is one of the top complaints we receive from citizens during this holiday season,” the chief said. “Moreover, I hope that confiscating and ticketing those who choose to possess illegal fireworks will reduce injuries to Elgin residents.”
He said residents are encouraged to call and report illegal fireworks to the Elgin Police Department at 847-289-2700.
Police Lt. Dan O’Shea said Elgin violators must go to court and can be fined between $50 and $750 per offense, He said no exact figures are available of how many complaints came in last year, or how many people received citations.
According to the National Council of Fireworks Safety, careless use of fireworks causes nearly 10,000 injuries a year in the United States. Close to 2,000 of those injuries are eye-related involving children under age 15.
More information on fireworks safety is available at www.FireworksSafety.org or www.sfm.illinois.gov.