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Since You Asked

I don't know about anyone else, but my neighborhood seemed like a war zone for a couple of hours on the evening of July 4. I know that Medford "decriminalized" the use of the basic "safe and sane" fireworks, but now I wonder if that just opened the floodgates for more trouble? Were the Medford police and fire departments extra busy that night? — Lewis H., Medford

Well, Lewis, the city of Medford has good news and bad news on that topic, with the good news appearing to win out.

According to a memo from Medford Police Chief Randy Schoen, the number of Fourth of July service calls for the fire department climbed from 88 in 2008 to 93 in 2009, but the number of police calls dropped precipitously, from 108 to 57 over the same two-year period.

Now a skeptic (who, us, skeptical?) might note that the reason the police calls dropped so much was related to the same reason the "war" seemed to intensify in your neighborhood: Since it was no longer illegal to shoot off the so-called "safe and sane" fireworks, there were fewer reasons to call the police — and more likelihood people would light up a few in their driveways.

Chief Schoen noted that none of the 93 calls to the fire department were coded by the emergency dispatch center as fireworks-related. Those 93 calls were for all types of issues, many of them for medical emergencies as opposed to fires. He said there were three suspected arson fires, none caused by fireworks.

Schoen said in his memo that the former outright ban on all fireworks was "virtually unenforceable" and that the reduction of 50 fireworks-related calls compared with a year ago allowed his department to concentrate on more serious offenses.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.