Philadelphia Managing Director Addresses Rise in Fireworks Complaints

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- At Philadelphia's city briefing on Tuesday, managing director Brian Abernathy spoke about the big uptick in complaints about fireworks.

There have been nearly 1,000 complaints in about a three week period in June.

He explained that fireworks are legal in the city. There are some restrictions, but he said they're difficult to enforce.

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"Unfortunately, state legislation from 2017 forced Philadelphia to legalize fireworks," Abernathy said. "Nevertheless, Philadelphia can and does substantially restrict fireworks in certain ways. The city fire code bans the use of certain fireworks within 150 feet of occupied properties. The fire code also prohibits people from setting off fireworks on public or private land with out the permission of the owner."

"The police will investigate reports of such activity when it's reported," Abernathy added. "However, please keep in mind that enforcement is extremely difficult, particularly since the folks setting off some of the fireworks have usually left the area by the time officers arrive.

He added a plea. "I am asking all those people who set off all those fireworks to remember their neighbors and to keep themselves safe and leave the fireworks at home."

He advised residents to call 911 or their police district if they see high explosive fireworks such as M-80's, which are illegal or if they see fireworks getting set off near buildings. State law does allow for a $100 fine and a summary offense in such cases, but again Abernathy says it has been difficult to enforce.

Also of note, selling fireworks is a misdemeanor. Selling display fireworks can be a felony.
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