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Fort Worth To Consider 'Legal Fireworks Zones' For Residents On Fourth Of July, New Year's

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Legal fireworks zones, set up inside city limits, have been suggested as a possible solution to curbing fireworks complaints in Fort Worth, which police and fire departments admit they have little or no ability to stop.

The idea would allow people to freely light fireworks in specified locations on holidays, as long as they were being safe.

The zones would be in large, unpopulated areas of the city, or next to water, and staffed by fire and police.

The suggestion was included in a report to city council members this week, but has not been officially approved or voted on.

Fort Worth received 5,992 calls about fireworks from July 1 through July 6 last year. There were another 1,129 during the three days around the New Year holiday.

Even with dedicated patrol units working on overtime, police and fire departments could only respond to calls with the most significant risk to safety or property damage.

The limited ability to respond, led to additional complaints from the community about the lack of enforcement or concern for safety.

"It's kind of the definition of insanity," Assistant Police Chief Robert Alldredge told city council members. "Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result."

Alldredge explained the current plan, which frustrates residents who don't get a response, also opens the door to the public taking an adversarial view of police when they do enforce the ordinance against fireworks.

"They're just trying to enjoy, maybe celebrating the Fourth of July and New Year's event and just trying to have a good time with their family," he said. "And sometimes those confrontations end up being use of force type incidents. And really is that the image we want for our personnel?"

The report said calls to San Antonio, Houston and Dallas revealed those cities are facing similar challenges, concerned with heavy handed enforcement and without sufficient personnel to answer complaints.

The idea didn't earn much immediate support from city council members.

Cary Moon said he would encourage police, to just write tickets.

"We don't need neighbors, people shooting off fireworks in our cities," he said. "If we've got one police officer out there, who can write one ticket, to one person, that is breaking the law, then that is a win for us."

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