Local authorities are urging civilians to leave the fireworks to professionals as injuries and residential fires continue to threaten the greater Williamsport area.
In 2017, Law 43 reformed fireworks sales in Pennsylvania, leading to the expansion of public sales of higher explosive power fireworks, such as bottle rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers.
This affected local city officials as the availability of such fireworks caused an influx of injuries, fires and countless complaints.
“That’s when we started to receive complaints, over the past two years”, said Bill Burdett, Warden of the Township of Loyalsock.
“They are not allowed in parks or public streets. … We hear of people doing this. We don’t want that on our streets or in our parks.
The conditions incorporated for demonstration fireworks indicate that such fireworks cannot be set off within 150 feet of a structure. Public spaces being prohibited, civilians are very limited to the authorized spaces in which they can safely set off explosives.
“Based on the conditions described, it is very unlikely that you will find a place in the city where you can legally use them. “ Williamsport Bureau of Fire Fire Chief Mark Killian explained.
In recent years, there have been several house fires in the Williamsport area following consumer fireworks.
“These things are going up in the air and they’re on fire. … Pennsylvania is full of old towns – old, densely populated neighborhoods. Just Williamsport itself over the past few years we have had several fires associated with a neighbor down the block launching fireworks that go into the siding of a house several houses away. Killian said.
“The challenge is yes, it is your legal right to use them. But it still has an impact on your neighbors because these things don’t stay on your property. That’s why those 150 feet are there. It’s flaming debris.
Serious injuries have also increased since Bill 43 released consumer grade fireworks to the public. Over the past year, there has been a noticeable increase in injuries. According to a study by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2020, approximately 15,600 people nationwide were hospitalized with fireworks-related injuries. This is an increase of approximately 5,600 hospitalizations over the previous year. It could also be in part due to COVID-19 restrictions, as a decrease in fireworks shows has forced individuals to purchase their own fireworks.
In addition, the study showed that firecrackers were the main source of fireworks-related injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2020.
Firecrackers with more explosive power were a type of firework that became available with Act 43.
Because the changes in the distribution of fireworks sales were part of a tax code reform, municipalities are unable to regulate consumer fireworks with a municipal ordinance. Many local officials continue to press for the repeal of Law 43. This would limit any further sale of fireworks.