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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: July 17, 2019 01:28 PM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: Municipal fireworks regulation
I will shortly introduce legislation amending the state Fireworks Law to reaffirm the authority of municipalities to regulate the manner, time and location of the use of consumer fireworks.

Since the 2017 enactment of the state Fireworks Law through Act 43, employing the American Pyrotechnics Association 1987 standard to determine permissible devices in Pennsylvania, many larger and more disruptive fireworks than ever have been allowed for private use increasingly have come into common use in the Commonwealth. Many, and perhaps most of us now regularly field complaints from officials and residents in our districts about the disturbances and the risks to people and property, and to the sheer chaos that has been unleashed particularly during July and at New Years. Over this last Fourth of July in the city of Reading that I represent, police and firefighters responded to dozens of calls blamed on fireworks, including one fire that caused more than $50,000 damage to a middle school roof and another that left a family homeless. In Luzerne County, authorities attribute the death of an 11-year-old in a house fire to fireworks set off by other youngsters. Similar disturbing reports doubtless can be found in news accounts across the state, even though a state Supreme Court ruling restricting roadside tent sales last year significantly reduced access to these devices.

The risks and the acceptability of bigger and more exciting devices vary significantly among rural, suburban and urban communities, however. As a result, I believe no single, cookie-cutter regulation at the state level can effectively restore or maintain local public safety and order. Unfortunately, the enactment of the Fireworks Law also created confusion over whether municipal regulation is now preempted. As a result, while some communities are moving ahead with local regulation, others are waiting to know whether this is permitted.

My legislation will reaffirm municipal authority to provide for the community peace, safety and order with reasonable requirements and/or prohibitions on the time, manner and location for using consumer fireworks, that do not conflict with state law. I hope you will support this effort to return sanity and safety to our celebrations.

Introduced as SB827