Fireworks now on sale
TRI-COUNTY AREA--While aerial-based pyrotechnics are still prohibited, this will be the first Independence Day weekend where ground-based fireworks will be permitted for sale in the area in some 50 years. New York State banned consumer fireworks for sale in 1965, but has since allowed counties to remove select items from the dangerous fireworks list this year, allowing the sale of items like sparklers and spark fountains. This measure was approved by the Yates County Legislature in April, with Steuben and Schuyler Counties also passing similar resolutions.
According to the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES), sparkling devices are defined as "ground-based or handheld devices that produce a shower of colored sparks and/or a colored flame, audible crackling or whistling noise and smoke." The law limits the type, size and construction of sparkling devices and requires them to be either handheld or mounted on a base or spike. These fireworks can only be sold from June 1 through Sunday, July 5.
Devices that are now legal to purchase include:
• Cylindrical fountains -- Cylindrical tubes containing not more than 75 grams of pyrotechnic composition that may be contained in a different shaped exterior such as a square, rectangle, cylinder or other shape, but the interior tubes are cylindrical in shape. Upon ignition, a shower of colored sparks and sometimes a whistling effect or smoke is produced.
• Cone fountains -- Cardboard or heavy paper cones containing not more than 50 grams of pyrotechnic composition. The effect is the same as that of a cylindrical fountain.
• Wooden sparklers/dipped sticks -- Devices that consist of a wood dowel that has been coated with up to 100 grams of pyrotechnic composition. Upon ignition of the tip of the device, a shower of sparks is produced.
• Novelties -- Items that include paper snappers and party poppers.
Marty Shipman and his wife Dawn took advantage of the new regulations by opening their fireworks tent on the corner of Lake and Liberty Streets in Penn Yan. They officially opened for business Tuesday, June 23, and will be operating until the sales window closes Sunday, July 5 at midnight. Marty said this is his first time dealing with fireworks, adding he wanted to get into selling them as a way to enhance the holiday experience for those in the area.
"I am fully for fireworks, because in the local area here, fireworks has, in a way, always been a part of [the holiday], especially with the ring around the lake," Marty said. "I think this will sort of enhance our love for the Finger Lakes."
Marty mentioned the assorted boxes have been the most popular items for customers so far, since it provides a full show as well as a variety of different items. He added some fireworks displays come in different themes, with some focusing more on noise while others focus more on lights. Marty said interest from people in the area has been high since opening.
"Business has been very positive," Marty said. "It has been a very steady stream of people."
However, according to state law, several varieties of fireworks are still banned from consumer sale and are listed as dangerous.
"The term 'dangerous fireworks' means any fireworks capable of causing serious physical injury and which are: firecrackers containing more than 50 milligrams of any explosive substance, torpedoes, skyrockets and rockets including all devices which employ any combustible or explosive substance and which rise in the air during discharge, Roman candles, and bombs," according to section 270 of New York State Penal Law.
In 2013, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) conducted a study from June 21 to July 21, finding an average of 240 people went to the emergency room each day nationwide with fireworks related injuries in the month surrounding July 4. Sparklers -- which can burn at temperatures of 2,000 degrees -- accounted for 31 percent of fireworks injuries, while items like firecrackers, Roman candles and bottle rockets accounted for 11, 6 and 4 percent of injuries respectively during the time of the study. Fountains were responsible for 3 percent of injuries, while novelties accounted for 2 percent.
The (CPSC) advises people to never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks, to never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully, and to light fireworks one at a time and move back quickly. Fireworks users are also advised to keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of fire or a mishap.