Getting Caught With Illegal Fireworks Could Mean Jail Time

Western Queens Gazette - May 30, 2019

by LIZ GOFF

Queens police officials intend to defuse illegal fireworks activity this summer, and are reminding the public that it is illegal to sell, store and/or use fireworks in the city.

Police officials are warning the public that they are facing more than a summons if they are caught with illegal fireworks. Offenders will be arrested and processed through the system, which could land them behind bars while they await processing.

The annual crackdown conducted by police since the mid-1990s has resulted in the confiscation of thousands of illegal explosives and has significantly reduced the number of devastating injuries related to their use, police and fire officials said. The crackdown has persuaded many people to leave displays of large fireworks to experts.

NYPD officials said officers at local precincts would incorporate fireworks interdiction efforts with enforcement of traffic, excessive noise and drunk driving offenses that occur each summer.

“People must realize the dangers involved in setting-off illegal fireworks,” fire officials said. “How many people have to lose fingers, or a hand, before people understand that fireworks are deadly in the hands of amateurs?

“Some of these things are like a mine explosion, with the potential to maim or kill anyone within reach,” fire officials said. “It’s unfortunate that so many people choose to ignore the dangers just to prove they can get away with breaking the law.”

Fire officials cited an incident involving a 74-year-old Queens woman who mistook an M80 explosive device for a candle when a fuse blew at her home. “The woman didn’t know that her grandson stored a cache of illegal explosive devices in a drawer at her home. Her lights went out, she grabbed the M80 and lit it.” When paramedics arrived at her home, they found her severely injured, with severe burns to her face, arms, back and torso. She recovered, but was left handicapped, “all because her grandson decided to put on a fireworks show for his friends,” the spokesperson said. “Tell me, was it worth it?”

Fire officials are warning the public that FDNY marshals and investigators would be participating in the annual crackdown.

“Anyone caught with illegal explosives will be arrested and face charges of possession of illegal explosive devices, endangering, or other serious charges,” police officials said. “Offenders should expect to spend at least one night behind bars during arrest processing, where they will remain until a judge decides their fate – or freedom,” police officials said. “They won’t be getting out with a summons or a desk appearance ticket. There are no exceptions.”

Officials are urging anyone with information on illegal fireworks to call 911. “Call 911 and steer clear of any illegal fireworks display,” fire officials said. “Don’t take a chance and end up a victim of illegal explosives.”