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Believe it or not, most fireworks are illegal in NYS

WBFO file photo

It's that time of year again. The air is filled with the crackling booms and kapows of explosive fireworks. But as plentiful as they may sound, most fireworks are illegal in New York State.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said many residents have been complaining of fireworks being set off in their neighborhoods. That's why he issued a warning that setting off fireworks is an illegal activity.

"Police in Amherst, Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Orchard Park and West Seneca noted an increase in calls about fireworks in recent weeks," Flynn said. "In addition to being a nuisance for neighbors, fireworks can cause serious injury or death to people using them or to those nearby. Fireworks are explosives that have the potential to set fire to nearby homes and other properties. The sound of fireworks can cause distress for individuals with PTSD or other medical conditions, pets and wildlife."

He said a number of charges are possible for those caught setting off fireworks, including firecrackers, smoke bombs, Roman candles and the like. Among the violations is unlawfully dealing with fireworks and dangerous fireworks. Their sale is a class B misdemeanor.

Possession of illegal fireworks is a violation, as is disorderly conduct, which is an intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or making unreasonable noise.

Another possible charge is a class D felony of reckless endangerment, which can create a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.

Also, the City of Buffalo has an ordinance prohibiting unreasonable noise, and other cities, towns and villages may have similar ordinances.

New York State law allows only for the sale and use of a specific category of consumer fireworks known as sparkling devices, but even those are restricted.

"The law limits the type, size and construction of sparkling devices and requires that these devices must be hand held or mounted on a base or spike and be limited in sizes that range from 1-500 grams of pyrotechnic composition," according to the New York Division of Homeland Security.

Municipalities have also canceled their fireworks displays this July 4th because of COVID-19, while Canadian municipalities have canceled their Canada Day displays.

Mark Wozniak, WBFO's local All Things Considered host, has been at WBFO since mid-1978.
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