Bizzarro reminds residents of fireworks regulations

Fireworks can be a great display of celebration, but there are unintended consequences to the recently loosened restrictions. We must remember to be good neighbors and especially consider our veterans whose PTSD may be triggered. I’m a cosponsor of House Bill 1687 that addresses concerns for our veterans, parents with small children and pets. I think revisiting reasonable controls including time restrictions can allow people to enjoy fireworks without causing stress or harm to our community.

The July Fourth holiday is just around the corner and my office has received calls regarding concerns about firework activity.

Our frontline workers, specifically those who are called upon to protect and serve, from our police departments to fire companies, have already seen an increase in demand for their services as our communities continue to come back to life amid a global pandemic. As such, the added burden placed by the uptick in pyrotechnics across our communities is not making their jobs any easier, or our streets any safer.

I recently read of an incident in the Bronx where police officers responded to what was reported as gunshots only to find a teenager had been struck in his chest while lighting off fireworks.

While fireworks are available for legal purchase by Pennsylvania residents, there are regulations and laws that limit where they can be used. Those who are caught violating existing use laws do face citations but catching people using legally purchased fireworks illegally can prove to be a taxing and challenging nightly occurrence for law enforcement.

There are strict rules about where you can legally use the aerial fireworks that a new law made available in 2017. Pennsylvanians can purchase “consumer fireworks,” which contain up to 50 milligrams of explosive material. This includes firecrackers, Roman candles and bottle rockets.

Pennsylvania State Police restrictions include:

  • You must be more than 150 feet away from any “occupied structure” — defined as “any structure, vehicle or place adapted for overnight accommodation” or business — whether or not any people are present there.
  • You can’t set them off on public or private property without express permission of the owner.
  • You can’t set them off from, within or toward a building or vehicle.
  • You can’t set them off if you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In addition to these guidelines, local municipalities and county governments may have regulations that differ from state or federal guidelines.

The fireworks are likely to continue as will efforts and conversations to find a balanced solution to address safety concerns that ensure our celebrations are mindful of our community as a whole. Please know I am working with my colleagues in Harrisburg to strike a balance between addressing the concerns for our veterans, parents with small children and pets and marking holidays with these celebratory light displays.