Ocean County Press Release

FIREWORKS on July 4th are as American as apple pie, but the illegal variety pose an explosive and burn danger often disguised by their colorful wrappers.

"It is illegal to purchase, possess and use fireworks in New Jersey unless you are a licensed professional staging a show," said Freeholder Director John P. Kelly, who also serves a Director of Law and Public Safety.

According to federal statistics, fireworks injure nearly 10,000 people every year throughout the United States. The vast majority of those injuries occur during the two weeks leading up to and following July 4th.

"If you attempt to use these illegal devices, you are going to get hurt," Kelly said.

Kelly said he is especially concerned that many types of fireworks - freely for sale in some other states but illegal in New Jersey - are marketed to children.

While they look like toys, wrapped in colorful paper with names like Conehead, Funky Fish and Rambo Kid, they are anything but.

"The explosive power of these devices is astounding," Kelly said. "Under those enticing wrappings are dangerous and volatile explosives and projectiles capable of maiming and killing."

Possession of fireworks is a disorderly persons offense, but possession with the intent to sell is a fourth-degree offense, with a possible maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment and fines up to $10,000.

Unfortunately, many types of fireworks can be easily purchased in other states, including neighboring Pennsylvania.

"Do not travel out of state and buy fireworks," said Freeholder Deputy Director James F. Lacey. "It may be legal to buy them, but it is illegal to bring them back across state lines and use them in New Jersey."

Kelly said local police departments will be on the lookout for illegal fireworks in the days and weeks leading up to Independence Day.

Fireworks are a danger both to users and those who may be close by.

"When you light that fuse, you never know what is going to happen," Kelly said. "A rocket can fly out of control and strike a child or land on a roof and start a fire."

Most fireworks are made in China and many times the fuses are unreliable, he said.

"A fuse may seem to go out, but when you pick up the firecracker it may suddenly explode in your hand," Kelly said.

Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, liaison to tourism, said there will be many opportunities to enjoy fireworks safely this Independence Day.

"Many of our towns will be hosting shows throughout the weekend," Vicari said.

A listing of professional fireworks displays is posted on the tourism calendar of events on the Ocean County homepage at www.co.ocean.nj.us.

"The best way to have a safe and happy July 4th is to leave the fireworks to the experts," Vicari said.

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