ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With the Fourth of July weekend fast approaching, some city residents have been hearing the familiar booms and pops of fireworks ahead of the holiday. And each year, many residents report illegal fireworks — including, but not limited to bottle rockets and aerial fireworks like roman candles. But so far this year, the City of Albuquerque (CABQ) has received about half as many firework reports as last year, according to CABQ data.

From January 1 through July 2 of this year, the city had 1,278 firework reports. From January 1 to July 2 of last year, 2020, there were 2,450. In other words, this year, there was a 48% decrease in the number of reports.

Albuquerque residents can make illegal firework reports by calling 311, by reporting on the city’s website, or via the 311 app. Erika Eddy, who works with the city’s digital communications team, says that each year, “311 gets inundated with phone calls.”

But it’s hard to tell from call numbers how illegal fireworks use has changed over time, Eddy says. For example, while there were over 9,000 reports for fireworks in all of 2020, Eddy says that number may be anomalously high due to pandemic-induced boredom. And although there were only about 3,000 reports in all of 2019, that number may be anomalously low, because at the time, making a report wasn’t as easy as it is now, with the app and website.

Reports to 311 are sent to Albuquerque Fire Rescue (AFR) and turned into a digital map that reveals hotspots of potential illegal firework activity, says Kris Romero, the interim deputy chief fire marshal at AFR. The more specific those reports to 311 are, the better AFR can plan “knock and talks,” during which they chat with neighborhood folks about safety, what’s legal, and how to make reports.

“I actually went out with the fire chief today,” Romero says. They visited a neighborhood in the Louisiana/Comanche area that has seen a lot of 311 reports.

During the talks, Romero explains why they’re there: “This is one [neighborhood] that has been identified as a 311 complaint area, so we just want to make sure you guys are safe.” And Romero explains that it’s important to think about your neighbor before setting off fireworks. After all, fireworks can have an impact on children, animals, or even people with post-traumatic stress disorder, Romero says.

In addition to the neighborhood talks, AFR also does enforcement patrols. “On the third and the fourth [of July] especially, we team up with APD,” Romero says, “and we go out and we utilize that 311 data that’s coming in to look at those hotspots.” This year, AFR will probably also send some units to the Bosque, Romero says.

“We’re limited on resources,” Romero adds — and that makes it a challenge to “get people in the right areas to catch people in the act.” But he says each report to 311 helps them know where to concentrate their efforts. And while exact addresses are the most helpful, even just providing the nearest cross streets is better than nothing, Romero says.

During the Fourth of July, the city’s 311 community contact center will have extended hours to receive illegal firework reports. July 2, July 3, and July 5, the center will be open for reports from 6:00 a.m. to midnight. On July 4, they will be open from 9:00 a.m. to midnight, CABQ told KRQE.

What fireworks are illegal?

The city’s website points out that fireworks for sale within the city limits should be legal. And generally speaking, if the warning label on an individual firework [not necessarily a package of multiple fireworks] says “WARNING,” that’s a sign of an illegal firework. Labels reading “CAUTION,” on the other hand, are generally legal in the city, according to the CABQ website.

Romero points out that these legal fireworks adhere to size and noise regulations. Fireworks that stay under 10 feet tall, are no louder than a pop gun, and stay within a six foot radius are generally acceptable in the city, Romero says. But, given that Albuquerque is in “stage 1 restrictions,” there are no fireworks of any kind allowed in the Bosque or Open Space areas.

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Fireworks illegal in ABQ

  • Aerial Spinners
  • Helicopters
  • Mines
  • Missile-type Rockets
  • Roman Candles
  • Shells
  • Stick Type Rockets
  • Chasers (bottle rockets)
  • Firecrackers

Fireworks permissible in ABQ

  • Ground and hand held sparkling devices
  • Cone Fountains
  • Crackling Devices
  • Cylindrical Fountains
  • Flitter Sparklers
  • Ground Spinners
  • Illuminating Torches
  • Wheels

As listed on CABQ’s website.