The 4th and 24th of July may be party days for the rest of Utah County, but they are just two more work days for local safety officers.
"Everyone worked the Fourth," said Swen Nielsen, Provo police chief. "All officers were on duty, dispatchers were out directing traffic, and secretaries and clerks fielded calls about lost children."Big crowds often lead to disagreements requiring police attention, but July festivities have an extra complication - fireworks.
"We get a lot more calls than usual, and we try to respond to all of them," Nielsen said. "We get a lot of complaints about Fouth of July partgoers who are disturbing people who have not caught the spirit."
Provo received 20 calls alone from people complaining about fireworks on July Fourth.
"We answer all the calls we can, but they can start to back up," Nielsen said. "If we are working crowd control for thousands of people in Kiwanis Park, we can't drop everything to go investigate some neighborhood kids with a few firecrackers."
He hopes the problems are almost over.
"The 24th is not as big as the Fourth in Utah County. We are pretty much over the worst. Now we just have to wait for everyone to finish firing their illegally obtained firecrackers."
Ron Mosher, Orem fire chief, said many residents celebrate with Class-C fireworks that are sold legally in Utah.
"Things like sparklers and fireworks that don't leave the ground are legal three days before and after the Fourth and 24th of July. They create some fire danger, but not as much as fireworks that explode or are aerial displays."
Nielsen said many obtain illegal fireworks in Wyoming.
"We had 12 grass fires from Saturday to Monday," Mosher said. "We think most of them were started by fireworks, but it's hard to be sure since the fire destroys the evidence. But people reported hearing fireworks before most of the fires.
"It's hard to judge how much the fires cost Utah County since the only damage was to grass, but crews and equipment were risked at every fire."
Mosher said the worst fire, which burned Sunday on the foothills between Orem and Lindon, took two hours to put out, even with five different agencies responding.
Orem does not schedule extra firefighters for the Fourth or 24th, but all workers are on call, he said.
Nielsen said the extra workers cost his department dearly.
"We plan for it in the budget, but it's still a little discouraging to be four days into the fiscal year and have a disproportionate chunk of your overtime budget gone."
Nielsen said complaints should die down some this week and more after the 24th, but Mosher said things will not calm down for his department.
"It will help when people stop lighting fireworks, but the grass is so dry, we will not be safe from fire danger for a while. Some states in the Midwest canceled their Fourth of July fireworks because they had this kind of fire danger. We are being very vigilant, and don't expect to relax for quite a while."