Local fireworks retailers are enjoying an influx of business ahead of this year’s fourth of July celebrations, and it is all thanks to a new fireworks law taking effect in Pennsylvania. For the first time since 1939, Pennsylvanians are allowed to buy consumer-grade fireworks such as Roman candles and bottle rockets.
Sokoni Gaffney, an individual proprietor for Phantom Fireworks who runs a tent on Bristol Pike in Croydon, has found a special buzz about his customers so far this season.
“A lot of people are a lot more excited about the things that were forbidden last year, such as specific mortars, certain aerials, and stuff like that” Gaffney said. “It gives a better effect. It’s not all bubblegummy and stuff like that.”
The new law, signed in October, allows for the sale of pyrotechnics containing up to 50 milligrams of explosive material. The previous law, the Fireworks Act of 1939, only permitted the sale of ground-based fireworks.
According to Gaffney, the extra bang that this new law calls for is fueling sales.
“Some of it is more adult, and that’s what people like to see. Obviously adult content is a little more exciting than just jumping jacks” says Gaffney.
Despite the increase in sales and types of fireworks available to consumers, safety is still of the utmost importance when it comes to using fireworks this July 4th season. The Pennsylvania State Police issued stipulations alongside the new law requiring buyers to be over the age of 18 to purchase fireworks, prohibiting fireworks from being used by someone under the influence of drugs or controlled substances, and more.
Gaffney recognizes the importance of taking safety precautions when using fireworks.
“You have to make sure an adult is always lighting the fireworks” Sokoni said. “You have to be a safe distance from businesses, anything flammable, children.”
However, Langhorne-Middletown Fire Chief and Local Representative Frank Farry is not as fond of the law change.
“One of the problems I have with the legalization of [fireworks] is it was added to a bill at the last minute,” Farry said. “We didn’t have an opportunity to have any hearings on it, it wasn’t part of a free standing bill.”
Farry also has concerns about the weather leading up to the Fourth of July week.
“It’s going to be really hot this weekend so I suspect heading into the Fourth everything is going to be pretty dry, which increases the chance that a firework could set off a brush fire,” Farry warned. “Quite often those brush fires turn into structural fires. I would discourage the use, but if people are going to use them please use them safely and responsibly.”
WCBB’s Jonny Hart contributed to this report.