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Fireworks: Illegal Yet Plentiful

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Buffalo, NY (WBEN) July 4th is tomorrow, and for Phantom FIreworks, it's the culmination of the busiest time of the year. Marketing to New Yorkers, where shooting off fireworks without a permit is illegal, can be tough at times.

"It's busy, and the rest of the year, it's not busy, it's that simple," says Bob Weimer of Phantom Fireworks, based in Ohio. He notes there's an uptick toward New Year's Eve, but consumer demand ramps up on Memorial Day through the Independence Day holiday.

Weimer says fireworks are like spectator sports. "Everybody loves to a baseball game and watch it, but people also like to go to the sandlot and play it. Same thing with fireworks, people love to go see them, and some love to shoot them off themselves," he explains.

New York law bans fireworks use without a permit, so how does a New Yorker get fireworks to shoot off for July 4th? Weimer says they can go to stores in Pennsylvania for example, where all they have to do is show ID, and sign an agreement to move the fireworks out within 48 hours. "We then rely on the good faith of the customers to either obtain a permit or take the fireworks to a location where they are legal, but Pennsyvlania does not require us to ask about the state of destination," says Weimer.

Weimer notes there was a bid in New York to allow ground-based fireworks last year with the exception of New York City. He says it was passed, but because of intense lobbying by New York City, Governor Cuomo vetoed it. There was another effort this year, but did not get it passed during the session.

Exclusive WBEN


Julie Heckman, Exec Dir.
American Pyrotechnics Assoc.

Deputy Dan Walczak
Erie Co. Sheriff's Bomb Squad


Have you ever seen the kind of injuries that get cited each year?   Should NY lift the ban on fireworks?
Or is it just a government money grab?

or At The Bottom Of This Page

From the US Consumer Protection Commission:

special study (pdf) conducted by US Consumer Product Safety Commission staff found that 65 percent of all fireworks injuries in 2011 were sustained during the 30 days surrounding the Independence Day holiday. More than half of these injuries were the result of unexpected ignition of the device or consumers not using fireworks as intended. Fireworks injuries most often resulted in burns to the hands and head, including the eyes, face, and ears. According to the special study, sparklers, firecrackers, and aerial devices were associated with the most incidents.

Whether it is the sparkle of the bright lights, or the thunderous boom of the explosion, there is no denying the thrill that fireworks can bring to an Independence Day celebration. Unfortunately, when consumers get their hands on professional fireworks, the results can be deadly. Last year, CPSC received reports of four consumers who were killed by either professional-grade or homemade firework devices, while an estimated 9,600 consumers were injured"

From the American Pyrotechnics Association......

"Consumption of fireworks in the United States has risen dramatically during the past three decades, from 41 million pounds in 1980 to over 205 million pounds in 2010. During this period of unprecedented growth, fireworks injuries have declined dramatically due to industry safety education efforts and the ever improving quality of its products. (See chart below)

Over the most recent decade, this downward injury trend continues even as an increasing number of states & municipalities have relaxed their consumer fireworks laws – in fact the injury rate was 43% lower in 2010 compared to 2000.

More states than ever before, 46 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico allow the sale and use of some types of consumer fireworks.

Rhode Island and Arizona were the most recent states to lift their stringent fireworks prohibitions to allow the sale and use of consumer fireworks, specifically hand-held and ground based sparkling devices such as sparklers, cones and cylindrical fountains and ground based cake or multiple tube fountains In 2010. Whereas Kentucky, Utah and New Hampshire modified their laws in 2011 to allow a broader variety of consumer fireworks to be sold than in previous years, to be followed by the states of Maine and Michigan in 2012.

“With the liberalization of consumer fireworks laws and record-breaking backyard fireworks usage, the number of fireworks-related injuries and fires has dramatically declined”, says Julie L. Heckman, Executive Director of the APA. The fireworks-related injury rate is 43% lower than it was in 2000, when the trend in relaxing consumer fireworks laws was first initiated"

.... and the National Fire Protection Association:

"Each July Fourth, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks - devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death.

Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks is a group of health and safety organizations, coordinated by NFPA, that urges the public to avoid the use of consumer fireworks and instead, to enjoy displays of fireworks conducted by trained professionals.  

In 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 total structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 14,100 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported civilian deaths, 60 civilian injuries and $36 million in direct property damage.

In 2010, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,600 people for fireworks related injuries; 57% of 2010 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 37% were to the head.

The risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 5-14, with more than twice the risk for the general population.

On Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires"


From the US Consumer Product Safety Commission

Fireworks Use and Injury Stats from the American Pyrotechnics Assoc:

07/02/2013 12:46PM
Can't we Be Trusted To Shoot Off A Few Fireworks?
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