FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 8, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, POLICE COMMISSIONER KELLY AND FIRE COMMISSIONER SCOPPETTA ISSUE ZERO TOLERANCE WARNING TO NEW YORKERS TRANSPORTING, BUYING, SELLING OR USING ILLEGAL FIREWORKS
Individuals Found Transporting Illegal Fireworks Into New York City Will Have Their Vehicles Seized by the NYPD
Over the Past 10 Years, the City's Joint Fireworks Taskforce Has Produced Dramatic Reductions in Injuries and Fires Related to Illegal Fireworks
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta today warned New Yorkers of the consequences of transporting, buying, selling or using illegal fireworks. In New York City, all consumer fireworks are illegal and individuals caught buying, selling or using fireworks will be arrested. This year, those caught transporting fireworks into the City will have their vehicles seized by the New York City Police Department (NYPD). This year, 769 cases of illegal fireworks have been confiscated by the NYPD Vice Enforcement Division in conjunction with the City's Joint Fireworks Taskforce; more than 60 people have been arrested for possessing or trafficking illegal fireworks; and 31 vehicles have been seized. Last year, more than 2,300 cases of illegal fireworks were confiscated and 65 people were arrested. In July 2005, the Mayor signed a law creating civil penalties for individuals using fireworks illegally. And, throughout the next month, the City will analyze last year's 311 fireworks complaint data to more effectively deploy resources around the five boroughs. The announcement, made at the 122nd Police Precinct on Staten Island included a display of the most common fireworks seized in the City including sparklers, rockets, M-80's, firecrackers and cars recently seized by the NYPD. The Mayor was also joined by Staten Island District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan and City Council Members Andrew Lanza and James Oddo for the announcement.
"Fireworks are a wonderful way to celebrate Independence Day, but it's critical that we leave it to the professionals," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Fireworks are not only illegal, they are dangerous and in the hands of an untrained individual, fireworks can have deadly consequences. Each year, the Joint Fireworks Taskforce works to reduce the number of illegal fireworks on our streets - so much so that this year we've haven't recorded a single fireworks-related injury in the City. As we mark the start of the summer season, I urge all New Yorkers to report all illegal fireworks activity to 311."
"In addition to being illegal, bringing fireworks into New York City is a high risk proposition this year," said Police Commissioner Kelly. "The Police Department will continue to seize fireworks and the vehicles transporting them, in addition to arresting their occupants."
"For many years, July 4th was one of the busiest days of the year for the FDNY," said Fire Commissioner Scoppetta. "It was so busy that in some communities, additional fire units had to be added to respond to all of the fires caused by illegal fireworks. Today, as a result of the City's Joint Fireworks Taskforce zero tolerance on illegal fireworks, emergency call volume on July 4th is consistent with any other summer day and injuries related to fireworks have been reduced dramatically."
"A hospital emergency room is no place to spend the Fourth of July - nor is a courthouse," said District Attorney Donovan. "My office is committed to prosecuting those arrested for flouting our laws and endangering themselves and others with illegal fireworks."
"Late last July, the Mayor signed into law a bill I drafted that creates serious civil penalties for the sale, possession and use of fireworks," said Council Member Oddo. "The money that will come out of the pockets of those caught with illegal fireworks is real. However, knowing full well the commitment that has been made by the Mayor, Police Commissioner and Fire Commissioner to end the nonsense of the previous few July 4th holidays, it is abundantly clear that losing your shirt will be the least of your worries if you are caught with fireworks this year."
"Fireworks are a great way to celebrate Independence Day, but in the hands of our children they can be dangerous or worse," said Council Member Lanza. "While it may be tempting to bring fireworks into the City this summer, Staten Islanders should beware: it's illegal and it won't be tolerated."
In 1995, the Joint Fireworks Taskforce was formed with members of the NYPD, the New York City Fire Department's Bureau of Fire Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments. Over the past ten years, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of fireworks-related injuries across the city. In 1995, there were 56 recorded injuries, compared to only 8 in 2005 - a decrease of 86%. To date in 2006, there have been no injuries related to illegal fireworks. Fire activity on July 4th has also continued to decline from 706 fires in 1995 to 275 in 2005 - a 61% decrease.
Vigorous enforcement has also led to fewer illegal fireworks being brought into the City. This year, 769 cases of fireworks have been seized and more than 60 arrests have also been made this year including the arrests this week of six individuals on Staten Island suspected transporting and trafficking illegal fireworks. The fireworks seized included rockets and firecrackers and other high-powered fireworks. This year, on Staten Island alone, 16 people have been arrested, 286 cases of fireworks have been confiscated and eight vehicles have been seized.
Fireworks burn at extremely high temperatures and can rapidly burn through clothing and skin. Items such as sparklers are mistakenly thought to be safe, when in fact they can be very dangerous. Fireworks should only be handled by trained professionals. To report illegal fireworks activity, call 311.
Stu Loeser/Virginia Lam (212) 788-2958
Paul Browne (Police Department)
Francis X. Gribbon (Fire Department)
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