Police & Fire

Change in Fireworks Law Still Leaves Many on the Don't List


PISCATAWAY, NJ - Only New Jersey, Delaware and Massachusetts were among the holdouts for banning the sale and use of all consumer fireworks. However, a recent change in the law has made a handful of fireworks legal in the Garden State. New Jersey now joins Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Vermont as states that allow only the sale and use of sparkler and novelty fireworks.

The Piscataway Police Department addressed residents' inquiries in a Facebook post on the eve of the upcoming Independence Day celebrations, outlining the fireworks that are now legal to sell and use in New Jersey as well as those that remain illegal.

According to the New Jersey Sparkler Legislation signed by Governor Chris Christie on June 28, non-aerial fireworks are now legal to buy and use in the Garden State. Non-aerial fireworks are hand-held sparklers, ground-based sparklers and novelty fireworks such as poppers and snappers.

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However, all other fireworks remain illegal to sell and use in New Jersey, including firecrackers, aerials, sky rockets/bottle rockets, single-tube device with report, reloadable shell device/Roman candles.

The use and sale of fireworks on the illegal list is considered a disorderly person's offense. Such a charge carries with it a fine of up to $500.

New Jersey's fireworks ban was put into place way back in 1937. It passed with an unanimous vote mostly because of a particularly dangerous Fourth of July in 1936 that led to numerous injuries resulting from fireworks use. The injured were mostly children and the horrific stories were front page news at the time. Perhaps the most tragic tale was one that appeared in the Trenton Times about Marvin Kaplin. Kaplin was a nine-year-old Perth Amboy boy whose death was caused by fireworks. He was the first of two youngsters to die at the hands of fireworks in 1936. 

In all more than 900 people headed to the hospital with medical issues caused by fireworks that year, which was the catalyst for the New Jersey legislature to enact the fireworks ban.

While now considered legal, sparklers can burn in the range of 1,800 to 3,000 degrees. Statistics show that one in five fireworks accidents in the United States involve sparklers.

Piscataway police and township fire officials as well as the Middlesex County Fire Marshal's Office will be enforcing all laws regarding illegal fireworks in New Jersey.



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