Like any other municipality, the City of Newburgh struggles with firework usage during the summer.
“The noise from fireworks is keeping people who are blessed to be employed during and after this pandemic, and have to go to work early in the morning, up at night,” said Councilman Anthony Grice. “The loud noises are scaring babies and pets. Residents are concerned that their cars and/or houses may be damaged.”
As a result, the city recently voted to ban the sale and possession of sparklers and sparkling devices.
When law enforcement finds someone in the possession of sparklers and or sparkling devices, they have the right to take them away and destroy them. Despite the recent legislation, residents have still reported hearing fireworks at night.
The usage of fireworks has a tedious history in the state of New York. In 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill legalizing the sale and usage of sparkling devices in New York. The legislation excluded sparkling devices and small pyrotechnic novelties from the term “fireworks,” with the exception of cities with a population of a million or more.
“In my opinion, while laws should be passed at the state level, when legalizing some fireworks was passed in 2014,” said Grice. “The state should have worked with municipalities like ours to consider the impact. When the state allowed for municipalities to opt out, they should have thought about enforcement and sales in neighboring municipalities and states.”
“While some of the bigger fireworks, if that’s what people want to call them, were obviously still illegal, some of the others were difficult to determine if legal or not when out in the field,” said Grice. “The ability to opt out painted a broad brush, but it was the only choice given.”
When fireworks are improperly used, it can result in a dangerous situation like a fire.
“It’s difficult [the firework situation] because it’s a reactive situation,people are not complying with the law,” said City of Newburgh Fire Chief William Horton. “We had a second alarm fire on Chambers Street on Friday evening related to fireworks.”
“We’ve had small fires, we’ve had people shoot fireworks into apartments from the street over on Renwick Street a couple weeks ago,” said Horton. “So enforcement’s difficult, because you have to respond, for people to leave, for people to scatter.”
Horton hopes that people will comply with the law.
“We’re hoping nobody gets hurt,” said Horton. “We’re hoping nobody loses any additional property to fires caused by illegal firework use.”
As of Monday afternoon, the City of Newburgh Police Department has not yet responded to an emailed request for comment on enforcement of the firework ban.