YORK, Pa. — In 2017, the state made it legal for Pennsylvanians to purchase, possess and discharge consumer grade fireworks.
Prior to the law’s expansion, it was illegal for Pennsylvania residents to buy non-novelty fireworks in the state, but legal for people from out-of-state.
The hearing that took place on Wednesday was an opportunity for information gathering on the fireworks law and for people to voice their concerns.
Different groups representing local officials as well as first responders were able to testify.
One of those groups was the Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors, who said that this change has brought significant challenges to townships and municipalities.
“Primarily due to a disregard for public safety and a lack of common sense among users," said Joseph Gerdes, from the PA Association of Township Supervisors.
They add that the law has made it difficult for them to enforce anything due it’s narrow and inflexible restrictions as it’s currently written.
“In some townships, consumer fireworks are used 7 days a week, day and night, sometimes well into the morning hours. prompting a rash of complaints and overwhelming local authorities and their ability to respond to resolve disputes. On holidays, and the days leading up to and following them, the intensity of use increases to a fever pitch," said Gerdes.
Local first responders also say that fireworks are being used more throughout the year and not just during the holidays.
“The problem that we’re running into is the fact of the misuse and misunderstanding of everything that goes along with the fireworks," said Chief William Sleeger, from the York City Fire Department.
They say the amount of complaints they have received this year has been exponential compared to previous years.
“We would like to have law repealed, again because adding fines to that is only going to burden police departments which are already overburdened," said Sleeger.
Lawmakers hinted at additional meetings that will be taking place next year regarding this issue.