City Escalates War on Fireworks in Weeks Leading Up to July 4

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The New York Sun

Mayor Bloomberg in his weekly Sunday address made clear his intent to finish off the city’s decade-long war on fireworks.

The city’s Joint Fireworks Task Force – a group that includes the fire and police departments, and other public safety agencies – is going into “overdrive” in the weeks preceding Independence Day, he said. The force has already arrested more than 60 people, confiscated 760 cases of fireworks, and seized more than 30 vehicles used to transport the illegal pyrotechnics, the mayor said.

So far this year there haven’t been any accidents involving fireworks, although July 4 is three weeks away.

In 1995, there were 102 reported injuries from fireworks explosions. A series of traumatic deaths and injuries – including children falling from roofs while playing with fireworks – led Mayor Giuliani to initiate a crackdown 10 years ago. There were only 30 firework-related injuries in 1996, and by last year the number of injuries was down to eight.

“The penalties are serious. And we’re doing everyone a favor by enforcing them because the stark reality is that in the hands of amateurs, fireworks can be extremely dangerous,” Mr. Bloomberg said yesterday.

The city has added some new tactics to its arsenal in the fireworks battle. The mayor last year signed a bill that makes fireworks crimes punishable by hefty fines. The city now offers a $1,000 reward to anyone who reports a large cache of illegal fireworks to 311.

Last week, the police department deployed a mobile billboard that tells drivers about the New York penalties for fireworks. The truck roams along Interstate-80, which connects New York with Pennsylvania. The Keystone State has historically been the point of entry for illegal fireworks into New York.

The New York Sun

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