Safety and law enforcement officials are reminding Pennsylvanians to exercise caution when using fireworks during Fourth of July celebrations. Under state law, only small, novelty fireworks are approved for use by consumers.
“Fireworks displays are best left to the professionals,” said State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann. “Anyone who wants to celebrate the holiday with small novelty fireworks should take some simple safety steps to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
“When purchased and used legally, fireworks can be a highlight of any Independence Day gathering,” said Agriculture Secretary George Greig. “Stay safe by purchasing fireworks only from reputable in-state dealers.”
Meadville Central Fire Department Chief Larndo “Tunie” Hedrick has a simple description for most other fireworks, though: “They’re illegal and they’re dangerous,” he said.
“We actually had an individual lose his life shooting fireworks off some years ago,” Hedrick said. “One of them flew back inside the house and set a whole box (of fireworks) on fire. We found him approximately eight feet from a door he was trying to get to.”
Hedrick said his department doesn’t get many calls reporting illegal fireworks; those messages usually go to the police. “But we know there are people who buy them out of state, and they utilize them without being careful of what they’re doing. We also know of people setting off dynamite caps. They’re just as dangerous. That’s why professionals are used to utilize (legal fireworks shows) — and even then you need a city permit (to use them).”
Pennsylvania law allows consumers to use small “novelty” fireworks, which are ground-based and include sparklers and trick noise makers. These fireworks can be sold by retail establishments with valid permits.
State law bars consumers from using larger fireworks, including firecrackers, roman candles and mortars. Larger and aerial-based fireworks are sold at facilities licensed by the state Department of Agriculture and can only be purchased by out-of-state residents with proper ID or Pennsylvania residents holding a municipal permit.
All display fireworks that are shot into the air and burst into a large, colorful display — such as those seen at organized celebrations and sporting events — are prohibited for use by consumers.
“Enjoy your Fourth of July celebration, but be smart and remember fireworks are dangerous and their use is strictly limited by state law,” said State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan. “Even smaller items such as sparklers can be potentially dangerous, particularly when used by children because they burn at a very high temperature. Play it safe this year and leave fireworks to the experts.”
n More information: Visit the Pennsylvania State Police website at psp.state.pa.us, and search “fireworks.”
State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann shared the following safety tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety:
-Fireworks should only be used outdoors.
-Always have water handy.
-Only use fireworks as intended. Do not try to alter or combine them.
-Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water prior to disposal.
-Use common sense. Spectators should stay a safe distance from the person igniting the fireworks. The igniter should wear safety glasses.
-Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.
-Never use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives — illegal fireworks should be reported to local law enforcement.
-Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type. Sparklers should only be used under close adult supervision.
-Always remain standing and at least six feet from others while using sparklers.
-Always wear closed-toe shoes when using sparklers.
-Never hand a lighted sparkler to another person.
-Never hold or light more than one sparkler at a time.
-Sparkler wires and sticks remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to drop the spent sparkler into a bucket of water.
Fireworks and fun
The following holiday events have been reported to the Tribune:
Canadohta Lake — Fireworks at dusk.
Pymatuning State Park, Jamestown — Fireworks at approximately 9:30 p.m.
Centerville — Fireworks at volunteer fire department grounds, dusk, as part of Strawberry Festival, which runs noon to 11 p.m. and includes Strawberry Queen pageant.
Vernon Township, The Movies at Meadville — Sunset Dance from 8 to 11 p.m., with fireworks at 10.
Riverside Inn, Cambridge Springs — Fireworks at about 9:30 will top off a full day of family-style fun, featuring food, music, games, contests and historic re-enactors.
The Country Club, north of Meadville on Route 86 — Fireworks at dusk.
Although fireworks have long been a tradition at Conneaut Lake Park, there will be no fireworks there — or anywhere at Conneaut Lake — this year. The park’s rides and other attractions will be open, but park officials said they could find nobody to do a fireworks display on the holiday. Jack Slater of Silver Shores Restaurant, who had led a group several years ago to present fireworks, said the group no longer offers the project.