ATF, local police enforce fireworks laws
By Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Senior Editor
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) last week issued a press release encouraging the public across the nation to be safe and responsible during Fourth of July celebrations. Meanwhile, law enforcement officers in many states have been stepping up enforcement of fireworks restrictions in an effort to prevent fires and bodily injury.
"To better ensure a safe and happy Fourth of July, ATF encourages the public to enjoy the fireworks shows conducted by the licensed professionals," ATF Acting Director Michael Sullivan said in a written statement.
Only days before making the announcement, ATF agents from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia alongside members of the Pennsylvania State Police Firearms Trafficking Task Force participated in a raid of a Mt. Pleasant Township residence and several tractor-trailers on the property. One witness said that agents took several truckloads of fireworks from the house before moving on to do the same from the trailers.
Throughout California, where firefighters have already had their hands full with an early and already brutal season of wildfires, police have been stepping up enforcement of local fireworks laws. In a story posted earlier this week at FireRescue1, it was noted that “the unprecedented number and size of wildfires burning in California this year has forced firefighters to strategically choose which ones to tackle.”
In Santa Cruz County, where there have recently been three major fires, Sheriff’s deputies seized more than 1,500 pounds of fireworks and fireworks-making materials with an estimated value of $10,000. During that bust, Deputies also located nearly two pounds of marijuana.
The National Council on Fireworks Safety estimates that for calendar year 2006 there were about 9,200 fireworks-related injuries – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that most of those injuries occur in the weeks around the Independence Day holiday, and most of the injuries are to hands and eyes. Further, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that over the past decade, there has been an upward trend in injuries. CPSC also said in published reports that there were eleven fireworks related deaths in 2007, the same number as the previous year.
Wire stories and published reports contributed to this story.