The Fourth of July and fireworks go hand-in-hand. And, that meant a lot of calls into police departments Thursday night about residents shooting off fireworks illegally. Our Elyse Mickalonis spoke with law enforcement officials about the annual problem and how police efforts will continue through the holiday weekend.
BROOME COUNTY, N.Y. -- While thousands of people across the Southern Tier celebrated their Independence on Thursday, City and State Police were working hard to keep people safe.
"If you’re caught with illegal fireworks, and they’re all illegal in New York, depending on the quantity involved, you can face anything from a violation all the way up from a misdemeanor to a felony,” said Lt. Robert Croswell, NYSP. “Rest assured if there are injuries or fires or property damage, there will be an arrest."
This July Fourth, Binghamton police said calls kept coming in all night long from concerned neighbors about illegal fireworks, while State Police said they received far fewer.
"We had a total of nine complaints, most of those were anonymous. We sent cars to check those out. We didn’t make any arrests last night. Generally, as soon as the car gets in the area, it’s hard to see where they’re coming from and then it stops,” said Croswell.
Officials say with Pennsylvania just across the border, it’s easy for people to access fireworks. But once they drive back into New York state, those fireworks are illegal and for a good reason.
"You’re dealing with an explosive and those that do it professionally are severely regulated. They have to transport them in special vehicles. They have to store them in a special way. They have to handle them in a special way,” said Lt. Jeffrey M. DeRado, Binghamton Fire Marshal’s Office.
It’s an issue Binghamton Fire Officials take very seriously. Despite the ban on fireworks, they said the holiday brings injuries every year.
"In the state of New York, consumer fireworks are illegal and that does include sparklers. Every year, about 18,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for injuries sustained from fireworks, from burns, to loss of fingers, loss of limbs and death,” said DeRado.
State Police said if you have illegal fireworks or find someone else’s on your property, the trash is not the place for them to go. Instead, they’re urging people to dispose of them in a safer way.
"Call us. We’ll make arraignments for you to voluntarily surrender them. We’ve got people that are trained to handle those and we’ll get them out of there for you,” said Croswell.
But with many people still celebrating this weekend, police expect more complaints about fireworks. They want everyone to know they will be out in full force to handle the situation.
Officials said more than half of fireworks injuries are burns. Officials are urging people to safely enjoy legal public displays of fireworks this weekend.