PITTSBURGH, PA (June 26, 2020)—Pittsburghers love Fourth of July fireworks shows.
But with public shows cancelled this year due to Covid-19 concerns, many people across the city are conducting private shows in neighborhoods citywide. Indeed, from June 1 to June 21, Pittsburgh Police received 137 fireworks complaint calls—a 389 percent increase over the 28 calls received over the same period last year.
While this spike is also occurring in cities across the country, Public Safety officials remind local residents and visitors that consumer fireworks—even those that were recently legalized—pose significant dangers to people and property, and that fireworks can almost never be set off legally inside city limits.
“As a Pittsburgh native myself, I understand that fireworks are an important part of the way we celebrate our Independence Day,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said. “Unfortunately, as a result of the ongoing battle against the deadly Coronavirus, all fireworks and public gatherings have been cancelled this year. Please remember that fireworks are a real fire hazard and can be very dangerous. I urge everyone to exercise caution this year and not use them.”
To address the illegal use of fireworks in city neighborhoods, a Fireworks Taskforce made up of Pittsburgh Police and Fire Investigators was formed this week. The taskforce will patrol city nieghborhoods and respond to 911 calls for illegal fireworks.
City law prohibits the use of fireworks, even those that are legal, within 150 feet of any structure. Fireworks are also prohibited in all parks, any public space and on private property without consent of the landowner.
Anyone caught violating fireworks law is subject to a $100 fine and the possible seizure of their fireworks.
“Fireworks are not safe, especially in the hands of children,” Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire’s Fire Prevention Officer Lisa Epps-Cuda said. “Not even sparklers are safe. Think about it: Water boils at 212 degrees, wood burns at 575 degrees, glass melts at 900 degrees and sparklers burn at 1,200 degrees. Why would you put something like that in the hands of a child?”