COLUMBIA — Before the Fourth of July, reports of people using fireworks cause spikes in the number of 911 calls.
According to a city ordinance, fireworks displays require permits. Any person can be charged with a misdemeanor for firing any kind of firecracker or firework within the city limits. However, catching someone using fireworks illegally is not an emergency situation.
Instead, residents should call the non-emergency number 442-6131 in place of 911 when fireworks are being used within city limits. The non-emergency number allows 911 operators to focus on emergency situations.
“If someone is injured by fireworks, they should call 911," said Zim Schwartze, director of Public Safety Joint Communications. “If you are calling to report someone is shooting fireworks within city limits or because the noise is bothering you, that is a non-emergency call.”
There is no penalty, however, for calling 911 in an emergency situation. So, people injured while using fireworks, even illegally, should still call 911.
“There are no repercussions for calling in an emergency,” Schwartze said. “We are not going to get angry with anyone for calling 911 to assist someone or when you’re calling for yourself.”