EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Summer is in full swing, and with fireworks being set off on a near-nightly basis, noise complaints have skyrocketed in communities across the state.
East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva said in less than a month, the city has received 58 fireworks complaints from residents.
“Last year was nothing like the complaints we are getting now,” DaSilva said.
In Rhode Island, only ground fireworks and sparklers can be legally used by members of the public. Firecrackers, rockets, mortars or any other device that launches a projectile are banned.
DaSilva said fireworks are being set off late at night, aggravating many residents who are trying to sleep. He suspects the culprits are likely people who are cooped up due to the coronavirus pandemic and are looking for entertainment.
“You’re doing it at 2, 3, 1 in the morning, you’re disrupting the whole neighborhood, for what? A couple of minutes of cheap thrills,” DaSilva said.
DaSilva is encouraging Rhode Islanders to keep their neighbors in mind when deciding whether to set off fireworks.
“It’s not good for people who have PTSD. It’s not good for people who have small children and small pets in the house hold,” DaSilva said. “Please think of your neighbors and avoid setting off these fireworks so late at night.”
DaSilva said it’s difficult for officers to track down the source of the fireworks after receiving a noise complaint because they could be happening miles away. He’s actively working with the East Providence City Council to figure out how the city can better enforce the state’s ban on aerial fireworks.
East Providence is not the only Rhode Island community seeing a spike in fireworks complaints. Cranston Police Chief Michael Winquist tells Eyewitness News the city has seen an uptick in noise complaints regarding fireworks. He said since June 1, the department has received 63 fireworks complaints, though no arrests have been made.
“This is a significant increase compared to last year when we responded to five calls for fireworks during the same timeframe,” Winquist said.
In Providence, City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan said neighborhoods across the capital city have been “plagued by the illegal use of fireworks.”
“For the past several weeks I have heard from constituents and colleagues about the large scale use of fireworks in our community,” Ryan said. “The fact is, neighbors don’t want to call the police on each other, but those who would have a total disregard for their neighbors need to understand the impacts their behavior is having on the community.”
She called the situation a “quality of life” issue and said she’s working with city leaders to begin educating residents on what’s legal and the dangers associated with fireworks.
“All too often, we forget that fireworks can have an adverse effect on many of our neighbors, from the elderly, to families with small children, to veterans and others suffering from PTSD, and is harmful to companion animals,” Ryan said.
Ryan said the Providence City Council also approved a resolution Thursday night that will allow the city to crack down on the illegal sale of fireworks. The resolution requires all fireworks vendors to have a fireworks sales permit.
“We are still in the midst of a pandemic and I understand and support that residents would like to find ways to safely celebrate within our neighborhoods,” Commissioner of Public Safety Steven Paré said. “I ask residents to please consider their neighbors, some of whom may be first responders working long hours to protect our community, and refrain from engaging in activities that could put anyone unnecessarily in harm’s way.”