2020 was the year everyone in LA set off fireworks

It started with a bang on Jan. 1, and it hasn't let up since

A gif of fireworks explosions in Los Angeles



On top of everything else, 2020 was the year your neighbors took to setting off fireworks, and perhaps your nerves as well. 


From Jan. 1-Nov. 30, the Los Angeles Police Department received 9,600 service calls in response to people complaining about fireworks. That is a 130.5% increase from the same period in 2019, according to public service call data


A spike in LAPD calls about fireworks

fireworks complaints 2020


Jan. 1 was likely the best indicator this year would be crazy, when the LAPD received 85 calls about fireworks, an increase of over 2,000% from the 4 on New Year’s Day 2019. Calls during the month of January were up nearly 179% compared with the same month last year. And COVID-19 hadn’t even arrived yet. 


March was the only month that residents had any quiet this year, as it saw the lowest number of complaints about fireworks, with 38 instances. 


By the time May rolled around, residents were just coming out of lockdown orders to curb the rise in coronavirus infections. Apparently, that was cause for celebration. That month saw nearly 700 calls, a nearly 232% increase from last May. The majority of those calls (nearly 32%) were received on Memorial Day and the Sunday before. As a matter of fact, this Memorial Day weekend had 220 calls about fireworks, compared with just 37 last year. 



LAPD calls about fireworks, 2020 vs. 2019

chart on fireworks complaints 2019-2020


Few people had the patience to wait till July 4 to light the fuse. In fact, June marked the highest number of complaints this year, when the LAPD fielded 4,055 calls, a 262% increase from 2019. Most of these calls were fielded on the weekends, with 425 calls reported on June 28, the highest for the month.


Law enforcement was never quite sure where all these fireworks were coming from. Legal sales of fireworks in California are highly restricted. But there were reports that some were coming in from Nevada and possibly Mexico. Authorities did land one major fireworks bust in June, in Carson. 


Many residents have come to expect fireworks when major events happen in the city, most notably the Fourth of July, when the Los Angeles basin lights up. But this year’s increase in fireworks may have driven some residents to the breaking point. 


From July 3 – 5, the LAPD received 2,522 calls about fireworks, a 63% increase from that same time last year. On July 4, the LAPD received 1,312 calls, a nearly 32% increase from last year. 


Complaints about fireworks began to drop from Aug. – Oct., but still remained at higher levels than their 2019 numbers. October had a 186% increase in calls about fireworks from its 2019 numbers. Much of this can be attributed to the Lakers winning the NBA championship and the Dodgers winning the World Series.


Those who love setting off fireworks also do not plan to stop, it seems. From Dec. 1 – 19, there are already 60 complaints about fireworks, a nearly 82% increase from the same time last year. 


This year has been complicated due to the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, leading to increased levels of anxiety, according to Penn Medicine. Leah Blaine, a clinical psychologist, told Penn Medicine in an interview that some 8 million Americans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder that it is common in both veterans and civilians, and anyone with PTSD is usually more on edge now due to the pandemic and financial strain. Loud bangs from fireworks generally can be problematic for people suffering from PTSD. 


How we did it: We examined LAPD service call data from Jan. 1-Nov. 30, 2020. 

Interested in our data or have additional questions? Email us at askus@xtown.la.