Fireworks caution stressed as July 4 holiday nears

DOVER — Complaints over late-night fireworks in cities up and down the East Coast have filled social media in the last month.

In Kent and Sussex counties, however, fireworks activity has varied, but departments are advising caution with July 4 right around the corner,

The Delaware Office of the State Fire Marshal issued a public reminder last week for all Delaware citizens and visitors that fireworks can cause serious injuries or death.

Most fireworks — as defined in Delaware Criminal Code Title 16, Chapter 69 — are illegal to possess, sell, or use in the state of Delaware at all times.

Dover Police Department spokesman Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman said 21 calls regarding fireworks have come into the department so far this year. That’s slightly more compared to 16 at this time in 2019.

“I would anticipate that those numbers will increase with the Fourth of July holiday approaching,” Master Cpl. Hoffman said.
Other downstate police departments have not noticed an increase.

“We have received minimal, if any, noise complaints related to the use of fireworks by homeowners or visitors,” said Rehoboth Beach Police Department spokesperson Lt. Jaime Riddle.

“We have not seen an increase here,” said Milford Police Department spokesman Sgt. Robert Masten. “Around the holiday we do receive some calls some years, but overall we don’t have much of an issue.”

“We occasionally have reports/complaints about fireworks,” said Smyrna Police Department public information officer Cpl. Brian Donner.
“These are not increasing in frequency here in Smyrna. We would remind the public that nearly all fireworks are illegal in Delaware.”
The Delaware Office of the State Fire Marshal noted the projectiles from exploded fireworks can cause eye injuries, burns, and amputations of fingers. Each year, thousands of people are treated in the nation’s hospitals for injuries related to the use of fireworks and most injuries occur around the Fourth of July holiday, the office said.

The fireworks law under the Delaware Criminal Code reads:

• Firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles, and all types of aerial consumer fireworks are always illegal and not permitted to be sold or used in Delaware. Any firework that shoots into the air, commonly referred as an aerial firework, is illegal.

• Sparklers and ground-based novelty items may be purchased by someone that is 18-plus years old and sold in Delaware only on these dates: June 4 through July 4.

• Sparklers and ground-based novelty items may only be used in Delaware on July 4 only.

Penalties for the misuse of fireworks or possession of illegal fireworks are misdemeanors subject to a fine. Damage or injuries caused by using fireworks can result in felony charges. Explosives labeled as “fireworks” are subject to felony charges.

In Rehoboth Beach, the city code has a section regarding setting off fireworks:

“Per city ordinance, the setting off of all types of fireworks as defined by city code is illegal,” Rehoboth Beach’s Lt. Riddle said. “Due to the high density population during the summer season this a logical restriction to prevent injuries and promote a safe environment within the city.”

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