Fireworks are a staple of Independence Day celebrations. But local leaders are warning Lower Bucks residents against shooting off large fireworks in their backyards or neighborhoods.
There are plenty of regulations surrounding fireworks in Pennsylvania. Bensalem Public Safety Director Fred Harran says only consumer-grade items are legal for personal use.
“Anything that has explosives to it is not legal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Harran. “It’s only the sparkler type ones, ones that go up in the air, and things of that nature.”
The Pennsylvania State Police has more detailed information on legal, or “Class C,” fireworks. They include “firecrackers, Roman candles, bottle rockets, and similar fireworks that contain a maximum of 50 milligrams of explosive material.”
Additionally, setting off fireworks is illegal in most local places thanks to certain regulations. One of the most prohibitive is a ban on setting off fireworks within 150 feet of any structure.
Middletown Township Supervisor Amy Strouse notes there are other important laws covering all of Pennsylvania. Fireworks cannot be set off on public property, towards a vehicle or building, or used under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“All of these laws mean that discharging fireworks is illegal from nearly all parts of Middletown Township and the majority of suburban Philadelphia,” said Strouse. “Even though it is legal to purchase them, there are far more restrictions against discharging fireworks.”
Fireworks caused some controversy in Middletown Township in 2019. Some residents took issue with a perceived lack of enforcement during the Independence Day holiday. This led to a new ordinance limiting fireworks sales at pop-up shops.
When it comes to setting off fireworks, Bensalem may not be a great choice either.
“There’s really no legal place in Bensalem to shoot off fireworks,” said Harran. He notes the regulation on being 150 away from a structure, “includes a shed, a garage, a detached garage, a barn, or anything on your property that’s any type of building.”
For most, the safest way to enjoy fireworks this weekend is probably attending public display. Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego has some advice for anyone determined to use fireworks on their own.
“Never allow children to play with fireworks, even sparklers. Only allow adults to light fireworks one at a time and quickly back away,” said Trego. “Never point or throw fireworks at another person.”
People determined to use fireworks this weekend should be aware 44 percent of fireworks related injuries involve burns. Additionally, hands, and fingers are the most commonly injured part of the body.