Officials warn against illegal fireworks ahead of holiday weekend: ‘Leave it to the experts’

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Fourth of July weekend is right around the corner and that means people are going to be shooting off fireworks.

There are some smaller-grade fireworks that are legal in New York State but the larger ones from out of state are illegal.

Valerie Taylor co-owns the Phantom Fireworks tent in Airport Plaza. She said they sell legal, fountain fireworks. They’re legal because all the explosives stay on the ground.

“What we always describe to customers is, it’s a show for your backyard not your neighborhood.”

The fireworks tents just became legal in New York State four years ago.

“We want to keep the safety up because if we don’t, New York State can take it away as easy as they gave it to us,” Taylor said.

To stay safe when using these fireworks, Taylor said to always have a hose ready just in case. She said adults should be the only ones operating the fireworks, and kids should be supervised around them. She said to set them off in a wide open area and on a solid surface. Don’t put them in the grass.

The illegal fireworks are more intense. Captain Frederic Foels from the City of Tonawanda Police Department said with no public shows last year, they got a ton of calls about those professional-grade fireworks.

“This year there’s more and more municipalities that are gonna have fireworks this year so hopefully that’ll bring the number down of people who decided to shoot them off on their own,” Captain Foels said.

He said anyone caught shooting off illegal fireworks can be arrested.

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“Take a chair and relax and watch them and let the experts do them and enjoy the show and don’t try to do it yourself,” he said.

Captain Foels said in 2019, the police department received 23 calls leading up to the Fourth of July holiday. In 2020, they got 161 and so far this summer they have already gotten 26.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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