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State fire marshal urges eventual ban on all fireworks
“It is an absolutely serious problem,” said Degnan. “These devices require an untrained person to make a decision about how to shoot these off; where they have to load it, stabilize it and then make sure they’re far enough away from it. That type of human intervention makes situations more prone to injury.”
The Dodge Road accident prompted several movements in town to either ban all consumer fireworks or to enact some type of fireworks ordinance that would include a permitting process. Both options were met with intense opposition from residents and were eventually rejected in split votes by selectmen.
This most recent incident is stirring up the same debate among officials over whether fireworks should be banned or regulated in town. While Takesian and Gleason both hold the same position — that fireworks are dangerous and there should be some regulation on their use in town, if not a full out ban — both are reluctant to put anything into motion this time around.
“I’m at my wits’ end,” said Gleason. “My personal philosophy is that these things are dangerous and should not be for public usage. I’m really reluctant to do anything again because it was shot down strongly the first time. But at the end of the day, these things are dangerous and should be off the damned market.”
“I don’t think it should be regulated,” said McDevitt. “People need to make those decisions on their own, the decision to not use fireworks. I’ve known since I was 6 years old that fireworks are dangerous. The last time I used fireworks I must have been about 12 so this isn’t coming from someone who loves fireworks. I don’t use fireworks and I prefer to not be in places where fireworks are being used. I just think people should be able to make their own decisions.”
“There will be some discussion, but it usually dies out pretty quickly,” said McDevitt.
Many states have fireworks ordinances and regulations and allow cities and towns to adopt all, some or none of the state’s regulations based on local voting. New Hampshire does have a list of fireworks that are banned for consumer usage. The “reloadable mortar” fireworks were banned for consumer use throughout the state until 2011 when they were removed from the list.
Former State Fire Marshal Don Bliss was the interim fire chief in Somersworth at the time the ordinance was last amended in 2012. The ordinance has a strict permitting process for consumer fireworks usage in town, including required approval from both the fire and police chiefs before any personal fireworks can be used.
Midgeley urges people to take as many precautions as possible if they’re going to use fireworks, including keeping children away and not to consume alcohol when using them.
The recent incident on Indian Valley Road is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s office and Pelham police.
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