WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The non-emergency line in Sedgwick County is doing what it’s supposed to do.
“We have had 258 calls on the non-emergency line during the two nights it has been operational,” says Elora Forshee, Sedgwick County Emergency Communications Director. “Since Friday (midnight), we have had 292 fireworks complaints.”
Doing the math, that means not everyone with a fireworks complaint is calling the non-emergency line. 34 calls for fireworks complaints have come into 911.
“Just call the line,” says Forshee. “That’s why we have it.”
Forshee says, before she became communications director, she handled 911 calls as a dispatcher.
“It was just a grab bag you didn’t know what kind of call you were going to get, whether it was someone just irritated with fireworks or somebody whose house was on fire. And what was frustrating for us or discouraging for us was that the system was so inundated with calls that we knew that there were emergency calls that were not getting answered in a timely manner,” says Forshee. “Because we were on the phone with people who were upset about fireworks. While we understand that is a nuisance during the holiday, it’s not truly an emergency like if somebody has their house caught on fire.”
Fire officials say they and Wichita police will go check on fireworks complaints that come into the non-emergency line. And, they say, they will not hesitate to write tickets for illegal fireworks that shoot more than six feet in the air. Or, fireworks being shot off after midnight.
“If you’re caught by a fire or police officer, you can be issued a citation that can carry a fine of up to 25-hundred dollars,” explains Interim Fire Marshal, Stu Bevis, with the Wichita Fire Department.
For those who are intent on shooting off fireworks, and 911 dispatchers say that is a large number, they remind you to be aware of your neighbors.
“I have to work the next morning which, as somebody who will have to be bright and early at six a.m. I can relate,” says Forshee. “You now it’s one of those holidays that you just hang tight and ride it out hope for the best.”
But, 911 in Sedgwick County says they are also preparing.
That non-emergency line is 316-290-1011. It’s live tonight from 6:30 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. and on the 4th, with the same hours.