Contact: David Galin
ALBANY, NY – Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan joined Police Chief Eric Hawkins, Fire Chief Joseph Gregory, Recreation Commissioner Jonathan Jones, General Services Commissioner Sergio Panunzio, City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar, and Chief City Auditor Dorcey Applyrs to remind residents that fireworks and sparklers are illegal, dangerous, and have a dramatic impact on neighbors’ quality of life.
Loud, illegal fireworks and sparklers cause trauma for individuals with PTSD, infants, children, seniors, and pets. They are a fire hazard, and litter our parks, sidewalks, and streets. Fireworks and sparklers make it hard to breathe, especially for those suffering from underlying respiratory diseases such as asthma and COPD.
In 2020, the City of Albany saw such a dramatic increase in the use of fireworks and sparkling devices that the City of Albany advocated at the County level to ban all sparkling devices from being sold and used in Albany County. Thanks to the advocacy of County Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce, Legislators Matt Peter, Sam Fein, and Ray Joyce, the ban was quickly passed and signed into law by County Executive Daniel McCoy. As a result, calls for service to the Albany Police Department for illegal fireworks and sparklers are down more than 50% this year compared to last year.
Any person who uses a sparkling device can be issued a fine up to $500 and any individual who sells or furnishes a sparkling device to another person can be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable with a fine of $1,000 and 15 days in jail. Any person using a firework in violation of the New York State Penal Law can be issued a violation, or charged with a misdemeanor or felony depending on the severity of the law being violated.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “While Independence Day is often synonymous with fireworks, many of our neighbors and our companion animals do not respond well to the loud explosions and noise these devices make. For our veterans, fireworks can be triggers for those who suffer from PTSD. Fireworks also exacerbate respiratory illnesses and litter our parks and streets. We urge our residents to enjoy the 4th of July weekend with their friends and family but please avoid using fireworks and sparklers that are both dangerous and illegal.”
Police Chief Eric Hawkins said, “Fireworks, blocked roadways and large parties are the quality-of-life issues that our officers are most often called to during the 4th of July holiday. We are encouraging everyone to enjoy the holiday weekend but also are imploring our residents to be courteous towards our neighbors.”
Fire Chief Joseph Gregory said, “Fireworks and sparklers are extremely dangerous and can lead to serious burns, injuries, and even death. Safety is no accident – please refrain from using these dangerous items, and call 911 in the event of any emergency.”
Recreation Commissioner Jonathan Jones said, “We have seen the injuries fireworks have caused to prominent, professional athletes. Our young people have a lot to look forward to in their lives, and I strongly encourage our young people to not use fireworks and sparklers to ensure they stay safe.”
General Services Commissioner Sergio Panunzio said, “Our DGS team will be working hard all weekend to ensure our parks are clean and ready for our residents to enjoy. What we least look forward to is the July 5th cleanup that creates a six-figure expense from the fireworks and sparklers waste while also putting our workforce in danger because they have to ensure these illegal devices are doused with water so they do not explode in someone’s hand or in a garbage truck. We implore everyone to refrain from using illegal fireworks anywhere in our city, especially in our city parks.”