4th of July and Fireworks Safety
Changes to state law widened availability of fireworks
House Bill 542 of 2017 repealed and replaced the Fireworks Act of 1949, making it legal for anyone over the age of 18-years old to purchase and use “Consumer-grade” fireworks in Pennsylvania.
“Consumer-grade” fireworks include item such as roman candles, bottle rockets, and others containing a maximum of 50mg of explosive materials. Under the law, no permit is required for the purchase and use of consumer-grade fireworks.
“Display-grade” fireworks contain higher quantities of explosive materials and still require that a permit be obtained from the appropriate municipality.
Township seeks to further define permitted use with new ordinance
A municipality cannot supersede state law, but it can develop its own set of regulations within the law. Exeter Township must allow for the use of commercial and display-grade fireworks because they are legal under state law. The Township has developed an ordinance with the assistance of resident input in order to regulate the process by which one obtains a permit for the use of display-grade fireworks, and has set restrictions related to the time, suspension, and duration on both display and consumer-grade fireworks.
Summary of main points in the new ordinance
The Township’s ordinance includes all conditions, prohibitions, and restrictions contained in the state law, and adds the following:
Time: Any use of display or consumer-grade fireworks shall not occur between the hours of 11pm and 11am on any day, except for the New Year’s holiday, when the use of display or consumer-grade fireworks may be permitted until 12:30am on January 1st.
- Applications for permits must be submitted at least fourteen (14) days in advance of the proposed use. The applicant must submit along with the application written approval of the owner of the property from which the display fireworks shall be used.
- Permit fees are established by the Board of Supervisors.
- Prohibited upon any Township roadway, park, public space, or any other Township-owned property unless specifically authorized in writing in advance by the Township;
- The Township has the discretion to suspend all use of consumer fireworks if the Fire Marshal, or Fire Marshal’s designee deems such a suspension to be in the best interests of the Township or its residents;
- The use of consumer-grade fireworks at any particular location shall not exceed a period of one-hour duration, measured on a cumulative basis, in any given 24-hour period;
- “cumulative basis” commences at the first discharge of a consumer firework and terminates at the last discharge.
- The owner of the location where the use of consumer fireworks is proposed may make a request to the Board of Supervisors to exceed the one-hour designated duration;
- Written notice of the request must be provided at least twenty-one (21) days in advance to the following:
- All adjoining properties;
- Exeter Township Board of Supervisors;
- Exeter Township Offices.
- The Township will post the notice to their website upon receipt.
- The public will be granted a ten (10) day objection period during which they should submit their complaints or concerns directly to the Board of Supervisors.
- The Board of Supervisors has sole discretion to impose reasonable limitations, or deny a request for an extended duration.