Reminder: Don't Play With Illegal Fireworks

Western Queens Gazette - June 28, 2019

Queens police officials intend to diffuse illegal activity over the July 4th holiday weekend and are reminding the public that it is illegal to sell, store and/or use illegal fireworks in New York City.

Police officials are warning the public that they are facing more than a summons if they are caught with the illegal explosives. Offenders will be arrested and processed through the system, which could put them behind bars until they see a judge.

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 the use of illegal explosives, FDNY and police officials said. The crackdown has persuaded many people to leave displays of large fireworks to experts, officials said.

NYPD officials said cops at local precincts would incorporate fireworks interdiction effort with enforcement of traffic safety violations and drunk driving offenses that occur each year throughout the city over the Independence Day holiday.

Officials said police would establish traffic checkpoints to catch drunk drivers, motorists who fail to use seat belts and others caught using hand-held electronic devices while they are behind the wheel.

“People must realize the dangers involved in setting-off illegal fireworks,” fire officials said. “How many times does someone have to lose a finger – or a hand, to send the message 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 78-year-old Queens woman who mistook an M80 explosive device for a candle when a fuse blew at her home on July 3, 2012. “The woman didn’t know that her grandson stored a cache of illegal explosive devices in a drawer at her home, a fire spokesperson said. “Her lights went out, she grabbed the M80 and lit it. When paramedics arrived at her home, they found pieces of her hand and several fingers strewn across the room,” the spokesperson said. “The woman also suffered severe burns to her face, arms, back and torso. She recovered, but was left horribly disfigured and 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 NYPD July 4th 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. “No one will 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.”