Editor's Note: The following is a news release that was issued by the Lawrence Township Police Department.
With the Independence Day holiday quickly approaching, it is important to understand the risks of illegal fireworks, which are often used to help celebrate occasions during the summer season. What begins as a joyous occasion can quickly turn into a painful memory when children and adults are injured as a result of fireworks usage.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were two fireworks related deaths and an estimated 8,800 people injured in fireworks related accidents in 2009. This is an approximate 26 percent increase from the estimated 7,000 injuries sustained in 2008. Additionally, children under 15 accounted for 34 percent of the injuries and persons under 20 accounted for 54 percent of the injuries. Finally, approximately 1,000 injuries were caused by sparklers and 300 injuries were caused by bottle rockets (Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2010).
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development reports that in 2010 there were eight fireworks accidents reported by emergency rooms, with no injuries reported while watching professional displays (N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development, 2011).
In addition to injuries, each year fireworks are responsible for many fires, causing millions of dollars in damage to property and the destruction of forests. The National Fire Protection Association estimates 22,500 fires caused by fireworks in 2008 and over $42 million in damage caused by fireworks in 2008 (National Fire Protection Association, 2010).
Some states, such as Pennsylvania, allow the sale of fireworks. New Jersey law strictly prohibits any person to offer for sale, expose for sale, sell or possess or use or explode any firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, roman candles, sparklers or other fireworks of like construction or any fireworks containing any explosive or inflammable compound. This includes sparklers and novelty items, such as cigarette loads, trick matches, trick noise makers, smoke grenades, toy propellants, snaps and pops, poppets and champagne poppers.
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development wants to remind people to not be fooled by a salesperson who tries to tell you that fireworks are authorized to be sold by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or are sold by mail order houses, or are permitted to be sold in other states, or are permitted to be shipped by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The only items that can legally be sold and used in New Jersey are paper and plastic caps for toy cap guns. If you have any doubt about the legality of any fireworks or have a question about fireworks, you may call the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development at 609-292-2096 for verification.
The law states that the sale or possession of fireworks with intent to sell is a crime of the fourth degree. Any person found guilty of possessing fireworks, including sparklers, with the intention of selling them, can be fined up to $7,500.00 and/or imprisoned up to 18 months. It is also important to note that any person found using fireworks illegally can be fined up to $500 and/or imprisoned for up to 30 days.
The fireworks laws are jointly enforced by municipalities and the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Last year, the Lawrence Township Police Department responded to over 20 fireworks-related complaints, with many of those complaints resulting in criminal charges and ordinance violations.
The Lawrence Township Police Department will again be vigilant toward the enforcement of fireworks related offenses occurring this summer season. Accordingly, the best way to prevent fireworks related injuries and the risk of criminal prosecution is to leave the fireworks displays to the trained professionals.
In this regard, all Lawrence residents are urged to attend the Lawrence Township Fireworks display that will take place on July 2, 2011, at Rider University (Rain date is July 3, 2011). The display will begin at approximately 9:45 p.m.
The police department recommends that it is best to walk to the display, as parking will be limited on the campus of Rider University. Traffic in the area will be very heavy before and after the display. Additionally, anyone who will be picking up spectators after the event are strongly encouraged to preplan a meeting location away from the Rider University campus, as the campus will be closed to all but exiting vehicles until all parking areas are empty.
This article is brought to you by the Lawrence Township Public Safety Advisory Committee, in conjunction with the Lawrence Township Police Department. Meetings of the Public Safety Advisory Committee are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. These meetings are open to the public and are held at the Municipal Building.
- Consumer Product Safety Commission. (2010, June). Latest Report. Retrieved June 13, 2011, from http://www.cpsc.gov: http://www.cpsc.gov/library/2009fwreport.pdf
- National Fire Protection Association. (2010, June). U.S. Fire Administration. Retrieved June 30, 2011, from U.S. Fire Adminsitration: http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/citizens/focus/fireworks.shtm
- NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development. (2011, June). Accidents Reported by Emergency Rooms. Accidents Reported by Emergency Rooms. Trenton, Njew Jersey, United States: State of New Jersey.