Although Pennsylvania changed the law on fireworks sales a couple years ago, folks around here are just catching on and lighting them every night.
In 2017, legislators legalized explosive fireworks which contain up to 50 milligrams of explosive material such as firecrackers, Roman candles and bottle rockets, among others. These explosives can shoot more than 50 feet high. Prior to the new law, only novelty items and smaller fireworks — ones that don’t shoot high into the air, like sparklers and fountains — were allowed to be sold in the state. M-80s, M-100s, cherry bombs, or quarter- and half-sticks — still remain illegal under federal law.
The crazy part of the old law was how Pennsylvania fireworks retailers could only sell explosive fireworks to out-of-state buyers which had a lot of New Jersey folks crossing the bridge to come to Upland. However, New Jersey law prohibits the transportation, sale, possession, or use of fireworks in New Jersey without a valid permit. Interstate transportation through New Jersey is permitted.
When the law changed in October 2017 under House Bill 542, fireworks were allowed to be sold from pop-up tent stands around the holidays and the state made over a million dollars in new tax revenue. Phantom Fireworks sued the Commonwealth, arguing that their buildings were equipped with safety measures that the pop-up tents lack and alleged it was competing for sales with tent structures that had lower overhead and licensing fees, among other things, which put them at a competitive disadvantage. The court ruled against the tent stands on a technicality.
Some versions of these permitted fireworks are starting to show up in retail stores.
Here’s what the state requires if your shooting off fireworks…
- You must be more than 150 feet away from any “occupied structure” — defined as “any structure, vehicle or place adapted for overnight accommodation” or business — whether or not any people are present there.
- You can’t set them off on public or private property without express permission of the owner.
- You can’t set them off from, within or toward a building or vehicle.
- You can’t set them off if you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
I honestly don’t even think there is too many places in Chester that legally fit those descriptions.
A violation of any of the rules – such as setting them off too close to an occupied structure — could garner a $100 fine. Some cities and municipalities including Reading, Lancaster, Easton, and Wilkes-Barre have already taken steps to ban the use of more powerful fireworks. I don’t think they’ve done so in Chester.