Leave fireworks to the professionals, KPD Chief says

Six months before he left office, former Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a bill that allowed some fireworks to be sold, purchased and set off legally by those 16 and older. We’re not talking about the fireworks you’d see in town over the Passaic River — or from Macy’s on the East River — each July 4.

No, those are still and likely will always will be illegal to buy, sell and set off unless you’re a professional.

Still, for the ones that are legal, Kearny Fire Chief Steven Dyl has a word of advice for the public.

“Leave it to the professionals,” Dyl said.

There’s a myriad of reasons as to why.

Though it may appear that a legally purchased and set-off firework is out, that’s not always the case.

This flier was distributed by the State of New Jersey to differentiate legal v. illegal fireworks. Please click on the image to see it enlarged. We gratefully bring it to you courtesy of Kearny Fire Chief Steven Dyl.

“It’s like when we used to see a lot of cigarette-smoking fires,” the chief said. “The fire starts after smoldering. It looks innocent, but it isn’t. It’s the same with fireworks. It may look like they’re out, but smoldering is possible.”

And when that happens, it could be an hour or more afterward that a fire starts.

This, of course, leads to something else Dyl hopes the public realizes.

If a fire breaks out after setting off legal fireworks, don’t try to put it out without professional help.

“If something goes wrong, call us — we’ll be happy to respond,” Dyl stressed. “It may seem like the fire is out — but it might not be. Even if you think you’ve put the fire out, still call.

Now, when the law authorizing some fireworks in New Jersey took effect, something was missing, according to the chief — directions on how to enforce the law. The state is still sending fire departments directives as recently as last week.

Any place of business can sell these legal items. But each store can have no more than 125 pounds of pyrotechnics on premises.

Meanwhile, understanding that people will take advantage of the new law, Dyl hopes consumers take things responsibly.

“Be very cautious,” the chief said. “Be certain that adults are the ones setting them off  and supervising things. Be sure to be away from where people are. Be as sensible as possible, as well.”

Dyl says after one buys legal fireworks, they should be stored in a safe location, well away from anything flammable — and that includes garage-stored gas cans. While the garage is the most logical place for storage, according to Dyl, they must be stored well away from the location of any potential welding, where sparks could easily set them off without notice.

Our front page graphic this week explains what is and isn’t legal. However, here’s a look at the same.

ILLEGAL are any kinds of sky rockets or bottle rockets, firecrackers of any kind, reloadable shell devices or Roman candles, any aerial fireworks and single-tube devices. (Rule of thumb: if it’s air bound, it’s illegal.)

LEGAL are sparklers (though Dyl warns that sparklers can still cause serious burns), smoke-creating devices, novelties such as party poppers that emit confetti, ground sparkling devices, sparkling wheels and ground-based sparkling devices.

Bottom line — if you’re going to buy legal fireworks, use extreme caution; otherwise, it might just be best to leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals.


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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.