Holiday weekends can get loud now that more types of fireworks are legal in Pennsylvania.
Suzanne Secrist and Darrel Blackwood said fireworks are set off in their neighborhood throughout the year, but especially around holidays. After an Independence Day ruckus, they came to the Carlisle Borough Council seeking whatever relief the borough could offer.
“They went on for over an hour on the Fourth of July, easily, and it was over a period of several nights,” she said.
Secrist said she understood the fireworks were now legal, but that the number and the intensity of the fireworks were over the top.
Blackwood and Secrist showed the borough council photos of the debris, including empty fireworks canisters, that were left behind on the grounds of Mooreland Elementary School after the fireworks were set off.
Neighbors are concerned about fire danger to nearby homes, especially since those who were setting off the fireworks were not professionals. They were also using public property and had no way to deal with anything that could go wrong.
Secrist asked the borough if there was anything it could do to prohibit the use of fireworks.
“As a neighborhood, we would appreciate your consideration and attention to this,” she said.
All Mayor Tim Scott could do is advise them to get in touch with state Rep. Barb Gleim and Sen. Mike Regan to try to prompt them to make changes to the fireworks law.
“The General Assembly adopted this law last year as part of the budget, and this is something they should be made aware of, too,” he said.
Even if the borough had an ordinance, there’s no guarantee it would help the situation since there is some question about whether state law preempts local law when it comes to fireworks, borough solicitor Keith Brenneman said.
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“Some have gone forward (with passing ordinances), but they haven’t been tested yet,” he said.
Complaints about fireworks have been happening throughout the state, prompting legislators to introduce measures that would allow municipalities to set their own regulations, councilman Sean Crampsie said.
Sen. Judith Schwank of Berks County introduced legislation to that effect after receiving many complaints about fireworks. In a news release announcing the legislation, she said police and firefighters in Reading responded to dozens of calls blamed on fireworks, including a fire that caused more than $50,000 damage to a middle school roof and another that left a family homeless.
That legislation was referred to the Senate’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on Aug. 15.
Those who are setting them off in the Mooreland neighborhood are already breaking the law, according to Carlisle Fire Chief Jeffrey Snyder.
Fireworks can’t be discharged within 150 feet of an occupied structure such as a home, car or business. No one has to be in the structure at the time for it to be considered an occupied structure, he said.
Snyder also said those who set off fireworks on private property must have the permission of the property owner to do so.
Councilwoman Robin Guido said she wasn’t sure there were spaces in the borough that met the criteria for being able to set off fireworks with the possible exception of the borough parks. Anyone wanting to set them off at the parks, though, would have to get permission from the borough.
Those setting off fireworks could possibly be charged with littering because of the ash and paper going onto private property or cited for violating the borough’s noise ordinance, Snyder said.
Snyder acknowledged that fireworks are a problem.
“This year, we even had (some) discharged in the borough from moving vehicles,” he said, adding that the vehicle’s license plate couldn’t be identified even though there is video of the incident.