A bigger bang: New law lets Pennsylvanians upgrade their fireworks
A fireworks stand near Lehighton is advertising the new products allowed under Pennsylvania’s fireworks law. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS
Felicia Mazzola sells fireworks to Tom and Chloe Swolensky at her family’s stand on Friday. Scan this photo with the Prindeo app to see a video. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS
Felicia Mazzola and her father, Ricky are seeing customers buy more fireworks at their stand since new state regulations took effect. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS
ennsylvania’s fireworks law has always been a confusing web. Stores could sell powerful aerial fireworks, but only to people from out of state. And while residents could only buy small fireworks that showered sparks, they could easily bring them in from out of state and use them.
All that changed last year when state lawmakers ended the confusion and allowed Pennsylvanians to purchase “class C” fireworks such as Roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars.
But police say that just because there are more powerful products available, it doesn’t mean that Dad can hold the Phillies’ post-game fireworks spectacular in his backyard.
“They may not be in trouble for possessing it, but they can get in trouble for using it the wrong way, in the wrong manner,” said Officer Carl Breiner of the Nesquehoning Police Department.
There are still rules governing the use of fireworks. While some aerial fireworks are now available, consumers are restricted to those that contain 50 milligrams or less of explosive material — meaning professional fireworks are still off limits.
It’s also illegal to use fireworks within 150 feet of a home or business, or when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“We can still enforce the fireworks law to an extent, but it really depends on the circumstances. The bottom line is safety for anyone around,” Trooper Anthony Petroski, public information officer for Pennsylvania State Police’s Troop N.
Local police departments say they haven’t seen much of a change in the number of calls about fireworks this year. But they are cautiously approaching the first Independence Day Holiday since the law took effect.
The Lansford Police Department put out a Facebook post reminding residents of the regulations, as well as the fact that they can still be held liable in case of injury or fire.
“Just because they are legal doesn’t mean you can use them anywhere, anytime,” said Chief Jack Soberick.
Many municipalities have ordinances regulating noise. In Kidder Township, a noise ordinance is in effect after 11 p.m. Their police may have more experience than others due to the large number of out-of-state visitors vacationing at Lake Harmony, who can often bring fireworks with them.
“We deal with it every year,” Kuzma said. “Most of the locals don’t like it.”
Fireworks sellers have said that the new law has been a definite boost to business. Pennsylvanians can now buy the fireworks that were previously only available to out of staters. Tents have a much wider selection, but in order to buy bottle rockets and firecrackers, you have to go to a brick and mortar store.
“It wasn’t really fair for out-of-state people to be able to come in and buy the good stuff that they couldn’t. A lot of them just go out of state anyway and buy it. So Pennsylvania was losing that revenue,” said Ricky Mazzola, who runs a stand on Blakeslee Boulevard Drive East each year.
Mazzola said there are lots of customers who are curious about the new products.
“People want to experience it,” he said. “But you still have to use common sense with any of it.”