(HARRISBURG) – State Senator Ryan Aument (R-36) sent a letter to the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, Senator Elder Vogel (R-47), requesting that he convene a hearing for the purpose of reviewing the 2017 expansion of the sale of fireworks and potential ways to address the issues created by it.
In 2017, Pennsylvania’s fireworks law was amended to expand access for Pennsylvanians to purchase certain consumer-grade options which were previously not permitted. Aument, who voted against the expansion of the fireworks law, said his office has fielded dozens of calls and emails with complaints since the passage of the expansion in 2017.
A year later, the General Assembly created the Senate Resolution 6 Commission to issue legislative recommendations to revamp Pennsylvania’s Fire & EMS systems. The final report published by the Commission included a recommendation to completely repeal the fireworks law expansion, or at the very least, implement tougher penalties for violations and more flexibility to municipalities to adopt their own fireworks ordinances.
“My constituents are rightfully frustrated that their local police departments do not have the manpower, resources, or statutory flexibility to investigate their complaints or prevent the misuse of these fireworks in the first place,” said Aument. “And I agree with them – we should not continue to expect our law enforcement and firefighters to fix and clean up the issues created through this law while simultaneously providing them no support to protect their communities. A legislative change is necessary.”
While many of the complaints are due to the nuisance these fireworks cause, this past 4th of July weekend residents across the Commonwealth experienced preventable tragedies due to the careless misuse or malfunction of these fireworks. In Wilkes-Barre, a family of eight was left homeless after an aerial firework landed on their porch as they were getting ready for bed, setting their home ablaze. And in York, an eight-year-old boy was killed and his family injured when their house caught fire from fireworks that were improperly disposed.
“These most recent examples of the loss of life and property were absolutely avoidable,” said Aument. “Enough time has passed to allow for any initial issues stemming from the new law to work themselves out – unfortunately, we have only seen things get worse, not better. That is why I am respectfully requesting that the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee hold a hearing on how we can improve this law and prevent any further tragedies.”
A full copy of the letter is available here.
CONTACT: Stephanie Applegate (717) 787-4420