All local municipalities should consider tighter fireworks laws; State should consider redo

We’ve written in this space about the impact of over-the-top residential fireworks displays that went on for about a three-week period in Williamsport around the July 4th holiday.

But the city is not alone in the proliferation of residential fireworks displays that occurred locally following the repeal of a state law last fall that allowed for purchase and use of larger and more powerful fireworks.

The same heavy use of bigger fireworks displays was going on long after the holiday in the municipalities surrounding Williamsport.

And these municipalities have fewer personnel to monitor whether the use is legally far enough away from structures and vehicles. They have only volunteer firefighting personnel to respond to a fire ignited by the pyrotechnics.

Just as the city is working on its own ordinance to limit use of these fireworks in terms of location and time window before and after Independence Day, so too should these municipalities consider their own, stricter regulations.

The larger question is whether our state lawmakers considered the impact of their actions before the Legislature repealed the state law on fireworks last fall. And were local officials informed then or since then about the changes?

We don’t recall much discussion about this change. Perhaps lawmakers did not think it was a big deal.

But it turned out to be a very big deal. Ask residents, most of whom don’t appreciate wayward fireworks displays a stone’s throw from their house at all hours of the night from June 20 to July 15.

In addition to the local municipalities taking these matters into their own hands, we would hope the Legislature would reconsider the repeal action it took last fall.

The genie may be out of the bottle regarding fireworks in the state, but the state’s lawmakers should at least give a second thought to whether this action was correct. Anytime the strong potential for a tragedy can be averted, it at least merits some discussion.

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