rap # 107 06/24/11
COUNTY OFFICIALS WARN OF ILLEGAL FIREWORKS DANGER;
ASK EVERYONE TO ENJOY PROFESSIONAL DISPLAYS ONLY
IT’S A TRADITION that goes back to the founding of our nation, the explosive displays of fireworks on a warm summer
July 4th is a time for celebration, but Ocean County officials also want to ensure that the long weekend is safe for
residents and the thousands of visitors that will flock to the county’s beaches, parks and waterways.
"Once again we are asking everyone in Ocean County not to use illegal fireworks and instead enjoy one of the many
professional displays scheduled for the holiday weekend," said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari.
Vicari was joined by county and local law enforcement and fire officials at a morning press conference at the Brick Township
Fire Academy to address the dangers of illegal fireworks.
"We’re not here offering safety tips on how to use fireworks," Vicari said "We’re here to tell you that fireworks are
illegal and anyone caught with them during the holiday, or anytime, will face criminal charges."
According to federal statistics, fireworks injure nearly 10,000 people every year throughout the United States,
said Stephen Scaturro, director of the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs.
The vast majority of those injuries occur during the two weeks leading up to and following July 4th ,he said.
"If you attempt to use these illegal fireworks, you are going to get hurt," Vicari said. "Even a sparkler burns at
nearly 1,000 degrees."
In New Jersey, it is illegal to sell or use any type of fireworks, said Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford.
Possession of fireworks is a petty disorderly persons offense, but possession with the intent to sell is a
fourth-degree offense, with a possible maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment and fines up to $10,000.
"The only fireworks that are legal in New Jersey are those used in shows under the control of licensed professionals,"
Vicari said he is especially concerned that many types of fireworks - freely for sale in some other states but
illegal in New Jersey - are marketed to children.
While they look like toys, wrapped in colorful paper with names like Conehead, Funky Fish and Rambo Kid, they are anything
"The explosive power of these devices is astounding," Vicari said. "Under those enticing wrappings are dangerous and
volatile explosives and projectiles capable of maiming and killing."
Kevin Batzel, chief of the Brick Bureau of Fire Prevention, warned that not only do illegal fireworks pack a
powerful punch, but the devices are notoriously unpredictable.
"You may have to light a fuse several times before it actually ignites," he said. "People are often injured when the
fireworks explode unexpectedly due to a faulty fuse."
Brick Township Police Captain John Rein said his officers would be responding to fireworks complaints.
"Besides the danger of bodily harm, we’ve had reports of fireworks shot onto roofs where they can start fires,"
Ford said police departments throughout the county will be on the lookout for illegal fireworks from now through
the holiday weekend.
Ocean County Fire Marshall Daniel P. Mulligan said illegal fireworks can also trigger brush and forest
"Even a small bottle rocket or sparkler can start a major fire," he said.
All of the officials at the press conference advised residents to avoid the physical harm, as well as the legal
ramifications of illegal fireworks, by instead enjoying a professional fireworks display.
Vicari said there will be numerous opportunities to enjoy fireworks safely this Independence Day.
"Many of our towns will be hosting shows throughout the weekend," he said.
A listing of professional fireworks shows for the entire county is posted on the Ocean County homepage
"For a real celebration and a happy Fourth of July, leave the fireworks to the experts," Vicari said.