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Thousands of firework calls tie up 911 emergency phone lines in Colorado

People were asked to call the non-emergency lines created for fireworks concerns, but many still called 911 to report illegal fireworks.

COLORADO, USA — Inside the Jeffcom 911 emergency operations center in Jefferson County, matters of life and death flow through the phone constantly.

"Every single day, yes," said Jennifer Lovejoy, a supervisor at Jeffcom 911. "We come in prepared for it to be a busy day."

Lovejoy is on the other end of the line when people call for help. The calls wouldn’t stop coming on Monday night.

"People don’t realize that even though there are fireworks, we’re also getting car accidents and we had a couple of fires. We had serious medical calls. We have to make sure we’re still available for those," said Lovejoy. "We try and get any of those non-emergency ones off the line as quickly as we can to take those 911 calls."

The county created its own special non-emergency phone number for people to call in with fireworks complaints on the fourth of July. People still called 911.

The Fourth of July 911 calls were up by 20% compared to a normal Monday. More than 7,500 calls came into the non-emergency line this weekend, up more than 30% from the weekend before.

"When all of our call takers are busy answering the fireworks calls, then it delays the response for the other types of calls," said Lovejoy. 

Some police departments respond to fireworks calls. Few actually write citations. Regardless, it’s up to Lovejoy to take every single call.

"We get all these fireworks calls and then we have a long, long list that we’re passing along to the different agencies and then they have their own strategies for their own enforcement," said Lovejoy. 

Firefighters in Aurora responded to a brush fire last night where people were continuing to set off fireworks all around them as they worked. When 9NEWS asked South Metro Fire if there was anything they could do to enforce the fireworks laws, their answer was that they didn’t have enough resources to fight a fire and respond to all those other calls about fireworks.

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