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Pocono Record

Rep from Poconos floats bill prohibiting PA consumer fireworks sales

By Kathryne Rubright, Pocono Record,

2023-05-03
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State Rep. Tarah Probst is introducing legislation that would ban the sale of consumer-grade fireworks in Pennsylvania.

“The usage of fireworks has become a real nuisance in some areas, causing stress to pets and livestock, depriving people of sleep, and negatively impacting veterans and others with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” said Probst, a Democrat representing parts of Monroe and Pike counties, in a sponsorship memo.

“Additionally, there have been daily complaints in the summertime of people not following the law and shooting off fireworks in small towns, boroughs, and residential areas, potentially causing collateral damage throughout our communities,” Probst said in the memo.

Before she was elected to the legislature, she was mayor of Stroudsburg for seven years. But the problem goes beyond what she has observed in her borough or the 189th District, with “amateur” users across the commonwealth setting fireworks off too close to buildings, she said.

“One malfunction or one spark could be catastrophic to that municipality,” Probst told the Pocono Record.

“This comes from local fire departments, police. It’s extremely dangerous,” she said.

From 2021:Improperly discarded fireworks set off West York fire that killed 8-year-old boy

At a council meeting last month, Honesdale officials in Wayne County discussed the difficulty of enforcing fireworks laws. Council President Michael Augello said the police chief has likened it to "chasing ghosts,” as officers must catch the person setting off fireworks.

Class C or consumer-grade fireworks include “firecrackers, Roman candles, bottle rockets, and similar fireworks that contain a maximum of 50 milligrams of explosive material” the Pennsylvania State Police say in a fireworks FAQ.

“Consumer fireworks do not include ‘ground and hand-held sparkling devices’, ‘novelties’ and ‘toy caps,’” the police add.

Display fireworks, which are used by professionals with permits, would be unaffected by Probst’s legislation. The legislation also would not prevent residents from buying fireworks out of state and bringing them back to Pennsylvania to use, provided they have enough space to do so safely.

Fireworks sales to Pennsylvanians were legalized in 2017. New limits were imposed in 2022, allowing municipalities to limit fireworks usage from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with the exception of July 2-4 and New Year’s Eve.

Fireworks cannot be used within 150 feet of buildings or vehicles, and the 2022 law gave municipalities permission to ban fireworks if that condition can’t be met.

The law also requires people to give written notice 72 hours before setting fireworks off near livestock.

Peter Becker contributed to this report.

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