Barnhart Submits Legislation to Ban Fireworks Sales

Monroe County would opt out of state law permitting sales of sparkling devices

Broader effort needed to curb usage

In advance of the summer season, Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart submitted legislation to ban the sale of sparkling devices. 

“Not only do fireworks create a safety hazard, they diminish the quality of life for everyone, especially veterans, children and household pets,” said Legislator Barnhart. “Opting out of sales is a tool in the county’s toolbox to confront this problem — and we should use it.”

In 2017, the New York State Legislature legalized the sale and use of sparkling devices throughout the state, outside of New York City. This amendment did not require counties to opt-in, instead it allowed them to opt-out. Monroe County did not take any action, thereby allowing sparkling devices to be sold.

Since then, both legal and illegal fireworks have significantly diminished the quality of life for residents of Monroe County. There have been numerous structure fires, as well as the abuse of a household cat using a firework device. There have been reports of injuries to people, including police officers. 

Calls to 911 skyrocketed this past summer, with residents complaining of constant fireworks noise at night. The fireworks activity is especially high in densely-populated areas of the city, where a misfired device can easily cause a serious fire. Police have not been successful in reducing fireworks activity.

This bill does two important things. First, it clears up rampant confusion – even among law enforcement officers – about what’s allowed on store shelves and pop-up tents. Second it reduces access to the sparkling devices. The sale of the devices has contributed to an “anything goes’ fireworks culture.

“This bill won’t solve the fireworks problem, but it’s an important step. I will also work with partners in government on a broader education and enforcement effort,” said Legislator Barnhart.

Sparkling devices are defined as ground based, spiked, or handheld devices that produce showers of sparks and/or colored flame, audible crackling, whistling and smoke. 

This legislation only deals with sales, as municipalities already have laws that regulate the use of fireworks.