FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 2008
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, POLICE COMMISSIONER KELLY, FIRE COMMISSIONER SCOPPETTA AND HEALTH COMMISSIONER FRIEDEN WARN NEW YORKERS OF DANGERS OF ILLEGAL FIREWORKS
Also Encourage New Yorkers to Watch Safe and Free Macy's 4th of July Fireworks
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden 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 Police Department (NYPD). This year, the NYPD Vice Enforcement Division and the Fire Department's (FDNY) Bureau of Fire Investigation have confiscated over 472 cases of illegal fireworks and have made over 46 arrests for possessing or trafficking illegal fireworks. The Mayor and the Commissioners were joined by Robin Hall, executive producer of the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks. The Mayor encouraged New Yorkers to view the safe, free and spectacular Macy's display, the nation's largest, which begins at 9:25 pm on Friday.
"Independence Day should be spent celebrating our freedoms, not in police custody or at a hospital emergency room," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Watching the annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks show over the East River is one of the best ways to celebrate."
"Efforts to stop the sale and use of illegal fireworks are working and the Police Department is continuing its trend of strict enforcement," said Commissioner Kelly. "In addition to being illegal, fireworks are extremely dangerous and we practice a 'zero tolerance' policy when comes to them."
"Thanks to increased enforcement and the combined efforts of the Fire and Police Departments, the Fourth of July has gone from one of the busiest days of the year for the FDNY to an average summer day," said Commissioner Scoppetta. "I congratulate the Bureau of Fire Investigation for their hard work and I hope all New Yorkers have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend."
The Macy's 4th of July Fireworks are the nation's largest display of pyrotechnics on Independence Day. The approximately 30-minute display will be launched from fireworks barges positioned in two areas, in the East River between 10th and 24th Streets in Manhattan and in Lower Manhattan. The southbound lanes of the FDR Drive will be closed to vehicles and serve as viewing areas. The FDR Drive will be accessible at 23rd, 34th, 38th, and 42nd Streets. Waterfront areas in Long Island City and Hunter's Point, as well as in Greenpoint, offer an unobstructed view of the fireworks. At the South Street Seaport, a double barge configuration will be positioned just south of the Brooklyn Bridge. The Brooklyn Heights Promenade and The Empire Fulton Ferry State Park are ideal viewing areas for this part of the display.
Fireworks, while festive and fun, are dangerous when not handled by professionals. A review by the City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found that of the 69 fireworks-related hospitalizations that occurred in New York City between 2000 and 2005, two-thirds (67 percent) of the patients were children. More than half of the child injuries (60 percent) occurred in Staten Island and Queens, even though only 32 percent of school-age children live in these boroughs. Wounds were the most common injury caused by fireworks, followed by burns and broken bones. The fireworks injury rate has fluctuated from year to year and is slightly lower in New York City than the nation. No one has been killed by fireworks in the city in recent years.
"New York City has the best fireworks show the world," said Health Department Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. "Instead of setting off fireworks at home, go see a professional display. It's more exciting - and not dangerous."
In 2005, Mayor Bloomberg signed legislation to increase penalties for discharging illegal fireworks. Working with the City Council and bill sponsor Councilman James Oddo, the City created a $750 civil penalty for the use of illegal fireworks in addition to the already existing criminal penalty of $250 for the use or discharge of fireworks without a permit. 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)
Francis X. Gribbon (Fire)
Jessica Scaperotti (Health)
Elina Kazan (Macy’s) (212) 494-4624
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