Many sanctioned fireworks shows are canceled this summer due to the pandemic, but people continue to set off everything from firecrackers to Roman candles in backyards and streets throughout the region.
And compared to 2019, fireworks use in St. Louis is up this year.
“[It] started much earlier in my neighborhood and in the neighborhoods I work in,” said St. Louis Fire Department Chief Dennis Jenkerson. “We have 30 different firehouses around the city. They’re all seeing an earlier start and an increased amount of shooting going on early in the evening. The size and the sound of these fireworks going off has increased.”
Last year from May 1 to June 24, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department received 196 calls about illegal fireworks use. During the same period this year, the city received 879 calls.
On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske spoke with St. Louis Public Radio’s digital engagement producer Lindsay Toler, who hypothesized that the increase could be caused by the pandemic.
“I do wonder if it's folks who never have shot fireworks off before,” she said, “who are just so sick of quarantine that they’re like, ‘I need to prove to the world that I exist somehow.’”
The discussion featured various perspectives on fireworks. Jenkerson recalled a 2017 evening when the misuse of fireworks led to the death of a fire captain. A psychologist who works with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder also offered comments, as did fireworks enthusiasts who have fond memories of lighting off firecrackers in the backyard.
Hear the entire discussion:
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.
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