FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2007
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, POLICE COMMISSIONER KELLY AND FIRE COMMISSIONER SCOPPETTA WARN NEW YORKERS ABOUT TRANSPORTING, BUYING, SELLING OR USING ILLEGAL FIREWORKS
Vehicles Seized From Individuals Found Transporting Illegal Fireworks Into New York City
Over the Past 10 Years, Injuries and Fires Related to Illegal Fireworks Declined Dramatically
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. Those caught transporting fireworks into the City will have their vehicles seized by the New York City Police Department (NYPD). This year, over 1,100 cases of illegal fireworks have been confiscated by the NYPD Vice Enforcement Division in conjunction with the City's Joint Fireworks Taskforce and the New York City Fire Department's (FDNY) Bureau of Fire Investigation; nearly 50 people have been arrested for possessing or trafficking illegal fireworks; and 29 vehicles have been seized. The Mayor and the Commissioners viewed the vehicles that have been seized at the NYPD College Point Auto Pound, the site that has been selected as the new home of the Police Academy.
"In the hands of a trained professional, fireworks can produce some of the most thrilling shows you'll ever see. But in the hands of an amateur, they are very dangerous and illegal," said Mayor Bloomberg. "It's one of those dangers that can be easy to trivialize unless you've ever talked to an emergency room doctor or seen someone who was badly burned or maimed. As we mark the start of the summer season, I urge all New Yorkers to report all illegal fireworks activity to 311."
"The message is simple: fireworks are illegal and transporting them can result in one's vehicle being be seized along with the pyrotechnics. Using them is subject to fines and arrest, as well," said Police Commissioner Kelly.
"The public has benefited greatly from the extraordinary efforts of our fire marshals and police officers who work to stop the flow of illegal fireworks onto City streets," said Fire Commissioner Scoppetta. "We see it with fewer patients in emergency rooms, and with fewer fires on the Fourth of July. But fireworks this year have injured an infant in Brooklyn, and they caused a fire that seriously damaged a home in Staten Island. For us, the effort will continue until there are no injuries and no fires because of illegal fireworks."
In 1995, the Joint Fireworks Taskforce was formed with members of the NYPD, the FDNY'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. To date in 2007, there has been only one injury related to illegal fireworks. A seventh-month old boy suffered burns on his face from an illegal pyrotechnic in Brooklyn. Also, last month a structural fire on Staten Island was started by a child playing with fireworks in his bedroom.
Vigorous enforcement has also led to fewer illegal fireworks being brought into the City. In 1997, the City seized 27,000 cases of fireworks. This year, over 1,100 cases of fireworks have been seized and nearly 50 arrests have also been made including the arrests this week of five individuals in Sheepshead Bay who were hoarding a massive 9,000 pound stockpile of illegal fireworks. Some of the fireworks were packaged in a way to appeal to children.
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/Jason Post (212) 788-2958
Paul Browne (Police Department)
Francis Gribbon (Fire Department)