Our View: Leave Fireworks To The Professionals

by The Cape Cod Chronicle

Every year, local fire departments are called to put out grass fires caused by bottle rockets and other fireworks. And police departments are practically flooded with complaints about illegal fireworks, with patrol officers often going from one report to the next for hours on end.

Here’s the fact: private fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts. There’s a reason for the law, too. Firefighters from around the region recently battled a brush fire in Orleans believed to have been sparked by illegal fireworks. We can remember a Chatham man who severely injured his hand while lighting off fireworks, and some years back, fireworks destroyed a boat in Wychmere Harbor. Acres of beachgrass have been lost to blazes sparked this way. We’re also cognizant that there are people for whom the sound of fireworks can be a traumatic trigger. Not to mention the dogs and cats who run for cover around the Fourth.

Are we being a Fourth of July wet blanket?

Consider this: We’re open to a change in state law that would allow the use of private fireworks, permitted by local fire departments the same way that open burning is authorized. Private displays could be limited to certain days and hours, and permit holders would be required to follow safety rules — and to pay stiff fines if they don’t. Permit fees and fines might be used to offset the cost of enforcing the rules.

This would require approval by the state legislature, but we can see no downside. Massachusetts residents easily obtain fireworks from states where they are legal (are your ears burning, New Hampshire?), and they will continue to do so. Changing the law to legalize the use, but not sale, of fireworks and introducing modest regulations seems like a logical solution.

Until then, though, we urge folks to enjoy the legal fireworks displays around the region, which always make for a better show anyhow.