Firefighters Call on Oneida County to Say ‘No’ to Dangerous Consumer Fireworks

PUBLIC INVITED TO CONTACT OFFICIALS TO COMMENT

Firefighters tell Oneida County: “Keep Fireworks in the Hands of Trained Professionals.”
Innocuous-sounding fireworks pose real danger to many, especially children.

(Oneida County, NY – May 10, 2016) The sale of fireworks may soon be legal in Oneida County. The Oneida County Board of Legislators is set to consider a local law at its meeting on Wednesday to allow for the sale of sparklers around the Fourth of July and again around New Year’s Eve. The Board of Legislators is encouraging residents to contact their local elected officials to share their thoughts; for contact information, visit ocgov.net.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law in 2014 to allow counties to approve the sale of certain firework items for limited periods of time, and coming up soon for consideration is the June 1 through July 5  purchasing period.

Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY), the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, Association of Fire Districts of New York State and other first responders are urging Oneida County residents to say ‘no’ to dangerous consumer fireworks because of the staggering number of injuries, fatalities and incidents of fires caused by children and others using fireworks.

A recent New York State law has legalized small fireworks outside New York City. Chapter 477 of the Laws of 2014 provided New York counties with the ability to allow for certain fireworks to be excluded from the definition of dangerous fireworks. The legislation further limited the sale of these fireworks to the time periods of June 1st through July 5th and December 26th through January 2nd of each calendar year. The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY), the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, Association of Fire Districts of New York State and other first responders are urging the rejection of any local law that allows for the exclusion of certain fireworks from the “dangerous fireworks” definition as permitted by New York State Penal Law Section 405(5)(b).

Many have misnamed this bill the “sparkler bill” and have positioned it as a consumer-friendly piece of legislation that would only allow these sparklers to be available during limited time periods. But the statistics clearly show that sparklers and novelty devices are not without danger. Nationally, sparklers and other novelty devices authorized under this legislation, accounted for 34 percent of the emergency room fireworks injuries in 2011.

Although this legislation would limit the sale of these sparkler and novelty devices to a certain time of year, the statistics show that it would still place a large portion of the community at risk. Research from the United State Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) shows that sixty percent of all fireworks injuries in the U.S. actually occur during the 30 days surrounding July 4th, at a rate of nearly 200 injuries a day nationally for this period. More than half of these reported injuries involved burns to the hands, head and face. About 1,000 reported injuries involved sparklers and bottle rockets, fireworks that are frequently and incorrectly considered safe for young children. Additionally, there is no provision to prevent the stockpiling of these items during the purchase periods, which would then make them available in the home all year long – adding additional risks to the community.

“Many of the fires and emergencies our first responders encounter each year are preventable tragedies caused by the possession and use of fireworks, including sparkler devices that, while appearing innocent and harmless at first glance, can burn at temperatures of up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit or more”, according to Robert McConville, FASNY President. “Let’s all work together to keep our families safe by rejecting local legal attempts to increase the distribution and use of these dangerous devices.”

Firefighters and emergency medical first responders ask that when considering this local law, Oneida County’s elected officials and residents take into account the impact on the safety of the community and in particular on the children of the community. The injuries associated with these types of fireworks have been well documented. The membership of the firefighter associations, numbering approximately 100,000 strong, believes that any local law permitting the use of these types of fireworks could have a negative impact on the safety of the community and the volunteer firefighters who ultimately must respond to those fires which result from the use of these fireworks. Oneida County is urged to reject this law.

About FASNY
Founded in 1872, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) represents the interests of the 100,000 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in New York State.  For more information, visit www.fasny.com.