City council committee moves forward with increased fireworks enforcement


City council committee moves forward with increased fireworks enforcement

MISSOULA, Mont. - A Missoula City Council Committee wants to move forward with a plan to increase enforcement for fireworks.

At a meeting Wednesday, the committee got the numbers on how things played out for July 4, 2013.

There's always been a ban but this year the Missoula City Council asked law enforcement to crack down on fireworks and that's exactly what they did.

"The police and fire departments took a more active role in enforcement of the fireworks ordinance," said Missoula Fire Chief Jason Diehl.

Diehl and Assistant Police Chief Mike Brady said between July 1 and the early morning of July 5 officers wrote 29 and handed out 95 warnings.

Many committee members felt the increased enforcement worked.

"I was astounded by the public that emailed us, thanking us," said Missoula City Council Member Jon Wilkins. "I think it probably did some good."

Calls to the fireworks hotline were down this year too, the lowest since 2007. That year there were 260 complaints, this year 136.

But there's still room for improvement. Part of that is cutting back on the number of people patrolling and focusing just on July 3 and 4. The Police Department spent $6,514 in overtime and the Fire Department topped that spending $7,400. While they can make budget adjustments, both have plans to scale that back.

"By focusing on the key, key times and then maybe invest more in the outreach and advertising," Diehl said.

A public hearing is scheduled for November 18. Additional amendments to the ordinance may come up at that point – including whether some exceptions should be made for small fireworks like sparklers.

For more on the ordinance click here.

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