It’s almost the 4th of July! Do you know PA’s new fireworks law?
The first July 4th holiday since PA’s new fireworks law was signed
With the Fourth of July holiday almost here, it’s important for the people of Northeastern Pennsylvania to understand our state’s new fireworks law. As of October 2017, the fireworks laws in Pennsylvania have changed. The new law allows PA residents to purchase consumer-grade fireworks, including firecrackers, Roman Candles, bottle rockets, and similar fireworks that contain a maximum of 50 milligrams of explosive material.
Display-grade fireworks – large fireworks designed to produce visible or audible effects for entertainment purposes by combustion, or detonation – remain limited to operators with a permit. Display fireworks are what you would see at a firework show, and they are set off by a firework technician.
Under the old law, only out-of-state residents could legally purchase The previous law (The Fireworks Act of 1939) limited residents to only novelty fireworks, which include a group of fireworks like smoke balls, sparklers, and ground spinners. This change has raised many questions about safety and many cities and municipalities are concerned for the safety of their residents.
The city of Hazleton is taking the lead on implementing additional safety measures in the use of fireworks. Mayor Jeff Cusat is requiring that anyone using non-novelty fireworks must obtain a permit from the city. Permits will be mandatory through the city and must be approved by the Hazleton Fire Department. Other cities may follow suit so please contact your local government before setting off display fireworks in your area.
Firework malfunctions can lead to serious injuries and even death and users must become aware of the dangers posed using consumer grade and display fireworks. According to the Nation Fire Protection Agency, fireworks cause an average of 18,500 fires per year including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires. These fires caused an average of three deaths, 40 civilian injuries, and an average of $43 million in direct property damage. To prevent these things from happening, everyone must understand and implement the necessary safety precautions.
A list of commonly endorsed safety precautions include:
- Read the caution labels and directions
- Wear protective goggles while lighting off fireworks to prevent sudden eye injuries.
- Only light one firework at a time to prevent malfunction which can lead to hazardous fires.
- Light off fireworks in a clear and open space, clear of buildings and vehicles.
- Never relight a firework that is a dud.
- If the firework does not go off within twenty minutes, put it in a bucket of water to make sure it is extinguished
- Dispose of used fireworks over night in a metal garbage can filled with water.
- Move very far away from the firework before it goes off and keep children far away from the lighting site.
- Take caution even when using smaller fireworks – even sparklers can cause bad burns! Never let children use them unattended by an adult.
The Fourth of July is a celebration of our country and our freedom. This holiday is to be celebrated without worrying about injuries or hazardous fires. So, take the time to learn the precautions and steps to take if you plan on setting off consumer-grade fireworks at your Fourth party this year, and most importantly have a safe and fun holiday!
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