ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – In a press conference on Wednesday, July 1, Mayor Tim Keller, Fire Chief Paul Dow, and other Albuquerque city leaders discussed how to stay safe during the Fourth of July holiday, how to report illegal fireworks, fire dangers, and the need to refrain from large gatherings during COVID-19.
Citing a recent meeting with Dr. Birx of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mayor Keller stated that social gatherings including pool parties and large backyard barbecues are spreading COVID-19 asymptotically across the country. “So we do want to remind folks, now is not the time to have a social Fourth of July gathering,” said Keller.
The mayor said that while he wants residents to have fun, he reminds them that people are showing up to gatherings that are asymptomatic for COVID-19 and don’t know it and are passing the virus along to others.
Fire Chief Dow explained that the City of Albuquerque is currently under State One Fire Restrictions which means smoking, campfires, and fireworks are prohibited in Open Space areas. These areas include the Petroglyphs, the bosque, and foothills.
Albuquerque Fire Rescue is performing daily patrols from noon to 7:30 p.m. and will increase patrols on July 3 and July 4. These patrols will continue until significant rainfall occurs.
Chief Dow said that over the last few months, they have been averaging about 10 outside fires every day, a 54% increase in outside fires this year. “Fourth of July, Albuquerque Fire Rescue averages 50 outside fires, two structure fires, a few vehicle fires, at least one bosque fire and that’s in addition to the 300 plus EMS calls we’re gonna run just on that one day alone,” said Chief Dow. “It is by far the busiest day of the year for us.”
Chief Dow acknowledged the public’s frustration with illegal fireworks and asks residents to please be patient with the department. He reminds those who are using fireworks that fireworks that have a warning label are illegal and cannot be used in the city or in Bernalillo County as they go over the height of 10 feet, sparks go outside of a six-foot circle, or it is louder than a cap gun. Fireworks that have a caution label are legal and can be used within the city but must be used on barren surfaces such as pavement.
AFR urges residents to have water nearby when using legal fireworks and reminds the public they cannot set fireworks off in city parks. Firework violations can result in $500 fees.
Mayor Keller stated that the city does get calls from veterans around the Fourth of July holiday regarding PTSD issues. Keller asks that residents be mindful of veterans in their neighborhoods and ask them before setting off any legal fireworks.
The city is trying to keep fireworks displays away from the VA area which is why they won’t be using Memorial Park during the city’s fireworks display this year. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a free, confidential information service that is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for those facing mental health issues such as PTSD at 1-800-662-4357.
City of Albuquerque Fireworks Displays
In order to maintain social distancing practices, the City of Albuquerque will be holding four fireworks displays across the city. They will take place at Ladera Golf Course, North Domingo Baca Park, and Tom Tenorio Park, and Manzano Mesa Park.
The city originally was scheduled to launch fireworks from the Los Altos Golf Course however, the community pushed back against the idea, citing the close proximity to the Eastside Animal Shelter. The events are closed to the public and are meant to be enjoyed from your residence.