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Igniting fireworks could result in steep fines in some local cities

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Amateur pyrotechnicians caught igniting firecrackers, Roman candles, bottle rockets and consumer-grade fireworks could be fined up to $500 in Wilkes-Barre. In Scranton, that fine is as high as $1,000.

"This new law was actually necessary because over the last several years, we've had a lot of complaints," said Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown, during a press conference Thursday alongside Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief Jay Delaney.

A state law enacted almost one year ago tightened regulations around consumer-grade fireworks. It allows municipalities, like Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, to enact regulations. The state act also clarified that it's illegal to set off fireworks within 150 feet of any building or vehicle.

Pennsylvania legalized the sale of consumer-grade fireworks in 2017 for anyone over 18.

“Their expansion really should have never happened," said Delaney. "But now we're forced to deal with this.”

There’s not only the risk of fires but also trauma and injuries, said Delaney. Their use also impacts first responders, military veterans, pets and people.

Fireworks have caused multiple fires across Wilkes-Barre. Last year, a firework explosion displaced eight people. A 31-year-old man was killed instantly in Scranton in 2020 while setting off a consumer-grade firework.

Scranton City Council on June 27 made it illegal to set off consumer-grade fireworks anywhere in the city, according to a press release. There are exceptions on certain days on and around Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and New Year’s Eve.

“We’ve heard from countless residents that the excessive use of fireworks in neighborhoods is threatening their safety and their property and degrading their quality of life,” said Mayor Paige G. Cognetti. “There’s a time and place to celebrate. When it comes to dangerous and noisy fireworks in the City of Scranton, there will be very few times and very few places.”

Graphic from the City of Scranton detailing the new laws surrounding fireworks.
City of Scranton
Graphic from the City of Scranton detailing the new laws surrounding fireworks.

Both Wilkes-Barre and Scranton are increasing the amount of officers and first responders working over the holiday weekend.

In Williamsport, Mayor Derek Slaughter said the city is working to update its fireworks ordinance. He anticipates that will include steeper fines.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.