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Councilman: Illegal Fireworks Were Sold In City

There are concerns that temporary businesses may have sold illegal fireworks in the city leading up to Independence Day.

During the Jamestown City Council work session, Jeff Russell, R-At Large, noted that before July 4, there were a number of tents that had popped up on private property and sold fireworks. “A lieutenant is concerned that he believes there are illegal fireworks being sold from these tents,” he said.

Russell added that the city’s nuisance officer had written some tickets for using illegal fireworks and the individuals receiving the tickets claimed that they bought the fireworks in the city from these temporary businesses.

Back in 2016, the state changed the fireworks law, permitting sparklers. Sparkling devices are legal in the majority of counties across the state, including Chautauqua County.

Any fireworks that make a booming noise are still illegal.

Russell noted that on Independence Day, he personally heard a number of fireworks going off. If they’re making noise, by definition they’re illegal.

When residents hear illegal fireworks going off, Russell said they’ll call police, which inundates the department.

“They can’t respond to all these phone calls on top of their normal day-to-day call volume,” he said.

When police don’t respond to all the complaints, they are criticized by residents, but Russell feels that’s not fair. “We’re giving them (police) a raw deal if we’re allowing illegal fireworks to be sold out of these tents in our city,” he said.

City officials said applicants who sell sparkling devices in these temporary tents must get a permit before they can sell them.

Russell said he would like their inventory to be reviewed to make sure no illegal fireworks are being sold.

“We need to do a better job of what they’re selling out there before we hand them the permit,” he said.

Another city official suggested making spot checks to those tents and let the operators know to expect this before they get their permit, which could help ensure only legal sparkling devices be sold.

Mayor Kim Ecklund noted that the tents that sell sparkling devices are all over the county. She said there were two in Jamestown but many more in Lakewood.

Pennsylvania also sells fireworks that are not legal in New York.

Russell said although they can’t address fireworks purchased elsewhere, he wants to make sure the tents in the city only sell legal fireworks.

“We can definitely take care of our own house,” he said.

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