The annual fireworks display for the Fourth of July will be noticeably missing this year due to the current public health crisis. But, that does not mean the fireworks should turn into a nightly event in front of residential homes throughout Norristown.
Fire Chief Tom O’Donnell is reminding Norristown residents about the regulations in place regarding consumer fireworks use and the safety hazards of using them.
A state law passed in 2017 has allowed the purchase of consumer-grade fireworks with no more than 50 milligrams of explosive material to anyone over the age of 18. The law includes the following limitations on their use:
- They cannot be ignited or discharged on a public or private property without expressed permission of the property owner;
- They cannot be discharged from or within a motor vehicle or building;
- They cannot be discharged toward a motor vehicle or building;
- They cannot be discharged within 150 feet of an occupied structure, whether or not a person is actually present;
- And they cannot be discharged while the person is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or another drug.
Norristown Municipal Council adopted an ordinance in March 2019 creating Chapter 163- Fireworks in the borough code that includes the following prohibitions:
- Usage within 100 feet of any combustible material;
- Use of consumer fireworks such that the sparks or any portion of the fireworks will land upon the property of another without the owner’s express permission;
- And the use of consumer fireworks two hours after sunset in the Municipality of Norristown, on the date they intend to ignite the consumer fireworks, as reported by the National Weather Service.
A person using consumer fireworks in violation of code commits a summary offense and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000.
“Display” fireworks, reserved by permit use only for professionals – as is used for the fireworks displays on the Fourth of July – still require special license to be purchased.
And as cool as fireworks are to look at, they can be just as dangerous when handled inappropriately.
“Fireworks can be fun and exciting: unfortunately, emergency responders respond to firework related emergencies involving injury, property damage or worse,” said Chief O’Donnell. “We want people to know fireworks are not toys! On average 250 people go the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th Holiday. Fireworks related injuries are painful and their scars can last a lifetime.”
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 7,300 fireworks-related injuries (or 73 percent of the total estimated fireworks-related injuries in 2019) were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments between June 21, 2019 and July 21, 2019.
- Attend public fireworks displays and leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals
- Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks, sparklers burn at nearly 1200 degrees and account for over one quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries.
- Never try to re-light or pick-up fireworks that have not ignited fully
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap
More information about fire safety can be found on the Norristown Fire Department website at www.norristownfire.org or by contacting the Fire Marshal at 610-270-2894.