By DON STINE
Retailers all across New Jersey have been stocking up on certain fireworks ahead of the Fourth of July holiday now that some types of them are legal in the state. But in towns where fires are always a major concern, like Ocean Grove, some people are expressing concern with the new law.
Several Ocean Grove residents spoke about their concerns at the last Township Committee meeting.
Former Gov. Chris Christie signed a law around this time last year that allow certain types of fireworks to be sold in New Jersey. But, since the law was signed very close to July 4, retailers didn’t have an opportunity to stock up on items.
This year it is different.
Recent changes to the law now permit persons 16 years of age or older to lawfully buy, possess and use certain sparklers and novelties. These permissible fireworks are limited to hand-held or ground-based sparklers, snakes and glow worms; smoke devices; and trick noisemakers, including party poppers, snappers, and drop pops.
Retailers across the state area are taking advantage of this new market, from convenience stores to big retailers, like Cosco and Walmart.
Ocean Grove fire official Ron Cole said that all fireworks can pose a potential risk, especially in a community like Ocean Grove with many old wood-frame buildings.
“The fireworks being sold now are not high-risk ones but we do have concerns,” he said.
He said that items, like sparklers, that burn very hot and can be thrown, are fireworks now being sold that raise the most concern.
“But there is nothing we can do about the sale of fireworks that are now legal, just monitor the situation,” he said.
Cole said another concern is people bringing in illegal fireworks that were purchased legally in states other than New Jersey.
“We need to make people aware of what is illegal here,” he said.
Barbara Burns President of the Ocean Grove Homeowners Association, said she noticed boxes of fireworks “all over Costo” when she was there.
“I really don’t know what is in those boxes- sparklers? I think this is a legitimate concern and I am sure it will come up (at an association meeting),” she said.
Fires are result of the use of fireworks by inexperienced people. According to the National Fire Protection Association, on Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other causes of fire. The association reports that on average each year, fireworks cause an estimated 18,500 reported fires.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission found that in 2016 about 68 percent of all fireworks injuries were sustained during the 30-day period surrounding the Independence Day holiday. About 1,100 injuries occurred nationwide due to fireworks and with 31 percent occurring to kids under 15 years old.