As the summer season is upon us and the Fourth of July Holiday approaches, the NLCRPD urges all residents to celebrate responsibly. The NLCRPD encourages residents to be respectful of their neighbors and to understand the potential legal implications surrounding use of fireworks within a municipal setting.

In general, there are two reasons the NLCRPD receives complaints surrounding fireworks use. The first is related to the noise component and the second is the perception of hazardous use.

Many times, loud fireworks are perceived by the reporting party a “shots fired” call and subsequently classified by public safety dispatchers as a “shots fired” call with a multiple NLCRPD unit dispatch. This type of dispatch may result in obligation of NLCRPD resources unnecessarily and can be filtered by the reporting party or the police dispatcher with precise descriptions and reasons why the sound is a gunshot as opposed to a firework . The most common calls related to fireworks noise is the imprecise “loud noise – fireworks – unknown point of origin” and the late hours use of fireworks. The late hours type of incident usually can be avoided by the user of the fireworks by simply applying the test of reasonableness of the noise and the hour. In the most general of time frames – this type pf use should be discouraged after 11:00 PM, but the reasonableness and community standard test will be applied by the investigating officer in making determinations.

Many residents are using consumer fireworks as part of their celebration of the holidays. This was made possible in part due to changes included in Act 43 of 2017.

The understanding of this act requires that residents consider the type of fireworks being used, and the specific requirements related to consumer fireworks – these are the type of fireworks used by citizens in the course  of home or recreational use. There are five prohibitions listed in the act.  All of these restrictions are important, but the most frequently violated restriction is within subsection  (5) Consumer fireworks within 150 feet of an occupied structure.

This act included definitions for the different types of fireworks and also creates certain restrictions on use of fireworks. Specific restrictions on use of consumer fireworks are contained within the statue as follows:

Use of consumer fireworks. –

(a) Conditions.–A person who is at least 18 years of age and meets the requirements of this article may purchase, possess and use consumer fireworks.

(b) Prohibitions.–A person may not intentionally ignite or discharge:

(1) Consumer fireworks on public or private property without the express permission of the owner.

(2) Consumer fireworks or sparkling devices within, or throw consumer fireworks or sparkling devices from, a motor vehicle or building.

(3) Consumer fireworks or sparkling devices into or at a motor vehicle or building or at another person.

(4) Consumer fireworks or sparkling devices while the person is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance or another drug.

(5) Consumer fireworks within 150 feet of an occupied structure.

Consumer fireworks-(1) Any combustible or explosive composition or any substance or combination of substances which is intended to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, is suitable for use by the public, complies with the construction, performance, composition and labeling requirements promulgated by the Consumer Products Safety Commission in 16 CFR (relating to commercial practices) or any successor regulation and complies with the provisions for “consumer fireworks” as defined in APA 87-1 or any successor standard, the sale, possession and use of which shall be permitted throughout this Commonwealth.(2) The term does not include devices as “ground and hand-held sparkling devices,” “novelties” or “toy caps” in APA 87-1 or any successor standard, the sale, possession and use of which shall be permitted at all times throughout this Commonwealth.

Display fireworks- Large fireworks to be used solely by professional pyrotechnicians and designed primarily to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, deflagration or detonation. The term includes, but is not limited to:(1) salutes that contain more than two grains or 130 milligrams of explosive materials;(2) aerial shells containing more than 60 grams of pyrotechnic compositions; and(3) other display pieces that exceed the limits of explosive materials for classification as consumer fireworks and are classified as fireworks UN0333, UN0334 or UN0335 under 49 CFR 172.101 (relating to purpose and use of hazardous materials table).

Municipality- A city, borough, incorporated town or township.