FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2005
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, POLICE COMMISSIONER KELLY AND FIRE COMMISSIONER SCOPPETTA URGE NEW YORKERS TO HAVE A SAFE HOLIDAY WEEKEND
Zero Tolerance for Illegal Fireworks and Drunk Driving
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and New York Fire (FDNY) Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta today urged New Yorkers to have a safe July 4th holiday weekend and cautioned them that there would be zero tolerance for illegal fireworks and drinking and driving. The announcement was made at the NYPD's Firearms Training Facility at Rodman's Neck in the Bronx where confiscated fireworks are safely disposed. There was also a demonstration by the NYPD Bomb Squad that showed the destructive power of M-80s and other dangerous fireworks.
"Fireworks are not only extremely dangerous, they're illegal," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The use of illegal fireworks can result in serious injury or even death. Since forming the Joint Fireworks Task Force in 1995, the Police and Fire Departments have reduced the number of people injured by illegal fireworks by 86%. As we mark our nation's independence, I urge all New Yorkers to celebrate the holiday weekend responsibly. We will have a zero tolerance policy for both drunk driving and illegal fireworks. To report illegal fireworks, New Yorkers should call 311."
"Fireworks are illegal because they are dangerous, a lesson that is learned tragically for some each year, "said Commissioner Kelly. "That is why we are making arrests and seizing fireworks as the Fourth of July approaches."
"Each year thousands of Americans are needlessly injured, maimed and burned through the use of illegal fireworks," said Commissioner Scoppetta. "Even seemingly harmless sparklers can cause fires, serious injuries and even death. Do not put yourself and your loved ones at risk by selling, buying or using illegal fireworks. All New Yorkers can enjoy this glorious celebration of our Nation's independence by attending one of the professional fireworks displays scheduled around the city."
In 1995, the Joint Fireworks Task Force was formed with members of the New York City Fire Department's Bureau of Fire Investigation, NYPD, ATF and Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments. Since its inception there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of injuries directly related to the use of illegal fireworks. In 1995 there were 56 injuries as a result of fireworks. That number has continued to drop and last year we recorded a total of only 8 - an 86% decrease. Fire activity on July 4th has also continued to decrease. In 1994 there were a total of 1,063 structural fires. Last year the total number was only 203 - a 71% decrease.
The vigorous enforcement has also led to fewer illegal fireworks being brought into the City. In 1997, over 27,000 cases of fireworks were seized, an all-time record. This year to date, 1,115 cases have been seized. Forty arrests have also been made this year including the arrest of eight individuals on Staten Island suspected of purchasing 101 cases of fireworks in Pennsylvania and transporting them to New York for resale, and the arrest of an individual transporting 58 cases of illegal fireworks in a rental van in Queens.
This holiday weekend New Yorkers should take advantage of legal fireworks demonstrations going on around the five boroughs, including the Macy's Spectacular on July 4th. The Macy's display will once again take place between 23rd and 42nd streets on the East River as well as at the South Street Seaport between Pier 9 and Pier 15 and from Ellis Island-Federal Anchorage 20B at 9:15 PM. There will also be a fireworks display at Orchard Beach in the Bronx on June 30th at 9:30 PM. On July 1st there will be fireworks displays at Wards Island overlooking Astoria Park at 9:15 PM and at Shea Stadium after the game against the Florida Marlins. There will also be fireworks at Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn on July 1st at 9:30 PM, at Wolfs Pond Park on Staten Island on July 2 at 9:00PM and at Breezy Point-Jamaica Bay/Rockaway Peninsula at 9:00 PM on July 3rd.
The NYPD will have sobriety checkpoints in all five boroughs over the weekend. The Highway Patrol will have extra units monitoring all of the principle entrance points into the City and foot patrols will be on the lookout for reckless drivers. The NYPD's Harbor Unit will also be enforcing BWI laws and will establish checkpoints through the harbor.
Edward Skyler / Robert Lawson (212) 788-2958
Paul Browne (Police Department)
Francis X. Gribbon (Fire Department)
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