City, neighboring municipalities should get tough on fireworks

On Sunday night, 11 nights after July 4th, loud, booming fireworks were being set off locally.

They likely were purchased legally, thanks to the October 2017 repeal of a state law that opened up the sale and purchase of fireworks that previously could only be bought in state’s adjacent to Pennsylvania.

But we doubt that they were 150 feet away from any structure or parked vehicles. In Greater Williamsport, that is a near impossibility.

And we are certain they were a major problem for pets and their owners in local neighborhoods.

Clearly, the blatant use of fireworks beyond even the more lax laws resulting from the state’s repeal is not a good thing.

The city of Williamsport is planning to do something about it. City police have drawn up a proposal for City Council that calls for limiting use of all fireworks to between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. between June 27 and July 6. Council should approve that proposal after proper airing and recommendations from its public safety committee.

The larger question involves the 150-foot limit for setting the fireworks off. We are pretty certain there is nowhere to set these fireworks off legally in the city. And it’s not likely there are many places in other local municipalities with enough wide open space for them.

As it stands now, the city solicitor says police arrive, speak to those using them and issue a warning. The $1,000 fine is reserved for repeat offenders. That’s called bending over backward to work with people. It’s usually the correct course.

Unfortunately, it’s not working. We recommend that next summer police give continual warnings before the July 4th holiday that fines will be issued for illegal fireworks action and then follow up accordingly if there are violations of the law.

We are guessing that a few $1,000 fines would change behavior in a hurry.

There are countless sanctioned fireworks displays every year in and around the July 4th holiday. There’s no need for neighborhood fireworks displays that endanger structures, are potentially harmful to pets and are disruptive to residents, particularly those suffering from such conditions as post-traumatic stress syndrome.