Who do you call for firework noise complaints? Not 911

Linley SandersData Journalist
June 24, 2020, 7:00 PM UTC

As Americans prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July, noise complaints about fireworks are skyrocketing alongside the explosions.

Formal complaints about nightly pyrotechnics have spiked in cities from San Francisco to Columbus to New York. Some of the complaint increases are simply seasonal — it is quite common to see amateur firework celebrations around the Juneteenth and Independence Day holidays — but there has been a significant increase in noise reports this year for many cities. In New York City, where consumer fireworks are illegal, Gothamist reported that recent firework complaints are more than 200 times what they were for the same period in 2019.  

As the complaints rise, local officials have grappled with whether to tell residents to call a non-emergency phone number, an emergency phone number, or not call at all

A YouGov snap poll indicates that half of Americans (51%) believe it acceptable to call a non-emergency phone number to file a complaint about fireworks. One-third (32%) say that it is unacceptable to call an emergency or non-emergency line at all. Just 6 percent of US adults say that either phone line is acceptable, while 3 percent would only call 911 over firework noise concerns.

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Methodology: This article is based on a snap poll of 2,673 US adults and 163 New Yorkers surveyed via YouGov Direct on June 18-19, 2020. Panelists were asked, “In your opinion, is it acceptable to call 911 (emergency phone number) or 311 (non-emergency phone number) for firework noise complaints.” Response options: 911 only, 311 only, either 911 or 311 is acceptable, neither 911 or 311 is acceptable, or don’t know. This YouGov Direct Poll was weighted according to age, gender, race, and education. 

Image: Getty