Resident Complaints Over New Fireworks Law & Abington Police Respond

The new Pennsylvania law signed into the state budget in October allows the sale of pyrotechnics containing up to 50 milligrams of explosive material. It replaced the Fireworks Act of 1939, which only allowed Pennsylvanians to purchase ground-based fireworks, like fountains.

The loosened fireworks law allows Pennsylvanians to purchase consumer-grade fireworks that set-off high-flying shells like Roman candles and bottle rockets, for the first time this year.  Ben Curley, assistant manager of Sky King Fireworks in Easton, Pennsylvania said “With the law change we have been about three times as busy, if not a little more during the weekends.”

The law change allows people to launch Class C fireworks in their backyards. Before 2018, residents had to secure permit from the township to buy and discharge bigger fireworks on their property. The state legislators created some restrictions in relation to the new laws to ease concerns over safety.

One of the restrictions is not setting off within 150 feet of an occupied structure. On July 4th weekend you could hear and see more fireworks being set-off in the Glenside area, and many people were not following the 150-foot rule.

The Abington Township Police heard from residents in greater numbers, so they  issued an announcement on Tuesday in response.

Abington Township Police

“Due to the increased number of complaints involving fireworks and to ensure the safety of all, the Abington Township Police Department has developed the following procedure: Officers will respond to the location of where the fireworks are being discharged. If the officer determines that discharging the fireworks has violated one of the five restrictions (click HERE for restrictions), the officer will issue a warning notice and ANY subsequent violations will result in a state citation with a $100 fine plus court costs.”

The Abington Police also circulated the rules issued alongside the new law, according to the Pennsylvania State Police:

  1. Buyers must be over 18 to purchase fireworks.
  2. Fireworks can’t be discharged from or toward a building or vehicle.
  3. Fireworks users must have permission from the owner of the property where the fireworks are to be discharged.
  4. Fireworks can’t be used within 150 feet of an occupied building. (this applies to almost all neighborhoods in Abington)
  5. Fireworks can’t be used by someone under the influence of alcohol, drugs or controlled substances.

The new policy essentially requires the fireworks offender to violate the restrictions twice before they are cited, which is more lenient than the state law.  The new law’s  Penalties section, states “a person using consumer fireworks in violation of the provisions of this article commits a summary offense and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $100.”

The lighter fireworks law is a way for the state to offset the budget shortfall. There is a $5,000 licensing for licensed retailers to order to sell the bigger fireworks. The fee is joined by a 12 percent tax on the new fireworks. The fee is joined by a 12 percent tax on the new fireworks. The fireworks tax generates money that will be doled out as grants to emergency medical services and volunteer fire departments.

Eric Wilson, assistant manager of Phantom Fireworks in Easton, one of the largest fireworks retailers in the nation, “considers the tax overkill, but said it hasn’t caused any of his customers to turn away, even if they are purchasing over $1,000 in fireworks.”

The following three fireworks retailers have all received expanded sales licenses to be able deal the goods to Pennsylvanians Intergalactic Fireworks in Bucks County, Delaware County’s Phantom Fireworks and TNT Fireworks Supercenter,  There are no permanent licensed fireworks retailers in Montgomery County.

Lehigh County has three permanent fireworks sellers Phantom, Sky King and TNT Stores of Easton. Not everyone is happy about the lighter firework laws across the state, which includes the Easton Fire Department in Easton in Lehigh Valley County.

“Those grants, which the law doesn’t indicate will be available to professional fire departments, won’t erase the potential damage the larger fireworks could cause, said Easton Fire Department Chief John Bast said. It’s blood money,” he said. “There is going to be an increase in accidents, fires.”

There are mixed feelings over the more lenient fireworks laws due to safety concerns and the boom in fireworks sales in Pennsylvania.


Source: Abington Police Department and the Morning Call