Burlington residents unsatisfied after ‘a month of firework hell’

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In a post on the community social media platform Front Porch Forum, entitled “A Month of Firework Hell,” Burlington resident Terrence Fradet recounted the last month of loud fireworks being set off around his house. In the middle of typing, a firework went off and woke up his newborn.

“Well to another night of not sleeping!” he wrote. “Literally as I am writing this my infant was woken by another firework so that is the end of this post.”

More: Mayor asks Burlington residents to ‘make noise’ to celebrate on July 3, in lieu of fireworks

According to the Burlington Police Department, last year from May 24 to July 2 there were nine reported firework incidents. This year, looking at a similar time frame, there were 67 reported firework incidents.

The increase in reports continued through Independence Day weekend. From July 2 to July 7 last year, there were seven reported firework incidents. This year, there were 32.

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Successful police enforcement ‘extremely rare’

Burlington Deputy Chief of Administration Matthew Sullivan said fireworks are very difficult to respond to and enforce.

A lot of the time the caller is unsure exactly where the fireworks are going off, he said, and by the time officers locate the site, all that’s there are the smoldering remains in the road and they can’t associate an individual with setting off the fireworks.

“It’s such a challenge for the fireworks because they are going off and you can’t tell if it’s a small firework right outside the door or if it’s a big one further away,” Fradet said.

For police officers, finding the perpetrators almost never happens.

“It’s extremely rare that we have ever been able to take action on a fireworks call,” he said.

Fradet has pursued other avenues to report this problem to prominent Burlington leaders. He spoke to Burlington City Council President Max Tracy, Public Works Director of Code Enforcement Bill Ward and others.

Vermont residents must obtain a permit to set off fireworks legally. Illegal fireworks can be confiscated on the spot, and people can be subject to fines up to $100 for each violation or imprisoned for not more than 30 days. Vermonters may face further liability for harming people or property with improperly used fireworks. 

Think first 

Burlington resident Jake Gilbert has been hearing fireworks go off near his house about every day for the past few weeks. The main problem for him is how the fireworks affect his dog. 

More: Think your dog’s afraid of thunder? It might not just be the noise that’s bothering them.

“A lot of nights, they’ll go until two or three in the morning so she’ll be either in bed with us or out in her own sleeping area and she’ll wind up just being so scared that she isn’t able to function,” he said. “We can’t even use to treats to calm her down. She refuses to eat, refuses to get up from where she is and just shakes.”

Gilbert posted on the social media site Reddit in an attempt to make people realize the consequences of their actions.

“The reason that I posted on Reddit about it was essentially I know it’s happening all over Burlington every night and just hoping that people setting them off would see it and think about it. It was an attempt to communicate with the people setting off fireworks,” he said.

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