Police, Fire Officials Warn Against Use Of Fireworks

Many local residents apparently have no problem breaking the law on Independence Day.

For even though consumer fireworks are illegal in New York state, and have been since 1940, the number of fireworks-related incidents and injuries by unlicensed users remains high.

“Every year, we have cases of people using fireworks (on July 4),” said Joseph Gerace, Chautauqua County sheriff. “It puts a strain on our patrols on already one of the busiest days of the year.”

Gerace, who encouraged residents to attend public fireworks displays, said that personal backyard displays are not worth the risk, both in regard to safety and the law.

Those caught setting off fireworks without a license will be guilty of a violation. Those caught selling fireworks – again, without a permit – will be guilty of a class B misdemeanor. If the value of fireworks is $500 or more, this becomes a class A misdemeanor.

According to the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, more fires are reported on July 4 than any other day of the year.

Chet Harvey, Jamestown deputy fire chief, warned that fireworks, sparklers and bottle rockets can be extremely dangerous, particularly to children and those who use fireworks while intoxicated.

“Please be responsible,” Harvey advised the public. “Never use (fireworks) indoors, don’t smoke by them … and keep them away from children and flammable liquids.”

The National Fire Protection Association stated that the risk of fireworks injury is two-and-a-half times as high for children ages 10-14 as for the general population.

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that 60 percent of all fireworks injuries occur during the 30 days surrounding the July 4 holiday.