Focus on fireworks safety, educating the public, not a complete ban
“I think everyone knows we had a tragic incident in July resulting in the injury to a number of people,” said William McDevitt, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
Thirteen people were injured by fireworks at an Independence Day celebration on July 3 at a Dodge Road residence. The final report on the state fire marshal's investigation is expected to be completed in about two weeks.
A number of residents on both sides of the regulation issue contacted McDevitt following the incident. As a result, the board will hold a series of discussions including a public hearing on Oct. 2.
Fire Chief James Midgley said the state amended the fireworks code about two years ago. Instead of naming specific permissible fireworks, anything containing less than a specified amount of explosives is permissible. Fire crackers, bottle rockets and smoke bombs are still prohibited, Midgley said.
While fireworks are legal in New Hampshire, some municipalities regulate their usage through local ordinances, Midgley said.
“If you look throughout the state, it runs the gamut,” Midgley said.
Windham, Salem and Nashua do not allow fireworks. Hudson has a permitting process in place, Midgley said.
Pelham may want to look at some type of licensing down the road, Midgley said.
“I think tonight the best option is to have a dialog and discuss where we want to go,” Midgley said.
Selectman Edmund Gleason said he doesn't support banning fireworks and is not trying to stop residents from having a good time. He would like to see the discussions address three specific issues: safety, times when fireworks can be used and public education.
Making people aware of the unstable nature of some fireworks and educating them on prudent handling practices will prevent accidents, Gleason said. He also said he would like to petition the Legislature to re-ban mortar-type fireworks.
“You just hit the nail on the head,” Midgley said.
Reloadable shells need to be protected because they will go off in any direction they're pointing if accidently ignited, Midgley said. The fire marshal's report may show that mortar-type fireworks were a contributing factor in the July 3 incident at the Pappathan home, Midgley said.
At the state level, Midgley said he would like to see something done to remove the most dangerous products from the market.
When considering any type of local restriction, enforcement will have to be looked at, Midgley said.
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