STATELINE (WIFR) -- Lots of people are driving north this week to buy fireworks. As you know, they're illegal in Illinois, but you can get them in Wisconsin.
Nick Stoyas says he's celebrating our country's birthday this year with a big bang. He just dropped $200 on everything from roman candles, to shells, and firecrackers.
"A few friends and I like to go out, just grab a few fireworks and see what’s going to happen with them," he said.
But that fun can quickly change to danger. According to the National Fire Protection Association more than 8,600 Americans were hurt setting off fireworks last year.
Stoyas' been lucky so far, but says he's come close to getting hit.
"I’m sure the opportunity has presented itself," he said.
Investigators with the Rockford Fire Department are on patrol responding to calls and looking for people setting off illegal fireworks. It takes the burden off the police department on a week officers know there will be a lot of firework complaints.
“You get after midnight when people are trying to sleep and now with Fourth of July being on a Thursday people have to go to work Friday morning so people have to be up, they want their sleep,” Rockford Police Lt. Pat Hoey, said.
While investigators are handing out tickets and confiscating illegal fireworks, they're also teaching firework safety.
“A lot of children are burned by sparklers which can be up to 2,000 degrees as they burn and we just see a big need of education for the public but also prevention from these problems from occurring,” Rockford Fire Department Division Chief Matt Knott, said.
And their best advice: Leave it to the pros.
“There are some great shows scheduled to be in the area and that by far is the safest way to enjoy fireworks on the Fourth of July,” Knott said.
Last weekend investigators handed out more than 100 tickets for illegal fireworks.
STATELINE (WIFR) – Fireworks have been going off in Stateline neighborhoods for weeks and it’s only going to get worse. We checked in with Police and Fire Departments to see what they’re doing to keep the noise level down.
The Rockford Fire Department says if you’re setting off illegal fireworks, you can expect to get a ticket and a date in court.
Starting tonight, investigators with the fire department will handle all of the 9-1-1 calls for firework complaints. Each night, four investigators will be on patrol responding to calls and looking for people setting off illegal fireworks. Over the weekend, investigators handed out more than 100 tickets. They say most people call in because of the noise, but investigators say it’s more serious than that.
"The biggest thing is the hazards of fireworks, the fire risk in dense urban environments like we have here, you know there's a lot of fire risk so we need to make sure we take a lot of precautions that we can and make sure people don't use illegal fireworks,” said Div. Chief Matt Knott with the Rockford Fire Department.
Division Chief Knott says a lot of injuries they see are from illegal fireworks. He says the best thing is leave it up to the pros and go to a professional fireworks show.
Six investigators with the Rockford Fire Department will be working the Fourth of July. They say on that night they focus more on educating the public about the dangers of fireworks instead of handing out tickets.
For a list of professional firework shows in your area, check out our special Fourth of July page. It has showtimes and other events around the Stateline. You can find it here.