Woodbridge Police Department issues warning about illegal fireworks

Scott Jacobs

WOODBRIDGE – The Woodbridge Police Department (WPD) has immediately begun increased neighborhood patrols in a crackdown on the use of illegal fireworks by residents and visitors.

WPD marked and unmarked vehicles will be on patrol throughout the days leading up to the Fourth of July weekend and will respond to any location where illegal fireworks are in use, according to information provided by the township on June 25.

Additionally, the WPD will respond to any complaints or instances where the use of illegal fireworks jeopardizes public safety and will take appropriate action, including arrest of violators and confiscation of illegal fireworks, according to the statement.

The name and address of any person arrested and/or charged with the sale, use or possession of illegal fireworks will be publicly released to the news media, according to the statement.

Recent changes to the New Jersey Explosives and Fireworks Act (N.J.S.A. 21:2-1 et seq., as amended by P.L.2017, C.92) now permit persons 16 years of age or older to lawfully buy, possess and use certain sparkling devices and novelties sold only in registered retail locations, according to the statement. Permissible fireworks legally allowed to be sold in New Jersey are limited to hand-held or ground-based sparklers, snakes and glow worms, smoke devices and trick noisemakers, including party poppers, snappers and drop pops.

The sale, possession and use of all other fireworks (including firecrackers, roman candles, M80s, cherry bombs, salutes, and ground-to-air fireworks) is a fourth degree crime if the person sells, offers or exposes for sale, or possesses with intent to sell, any fireworks and is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 18 months in jail, according to the statement. Possession of destructive devices is a third degree crime with fines of up to $10,000 and incarceration of up to three to five years in jail.

Additionally, a person is guilty of a petty disorderly person’s offense (a fine of up to $500 and/or a jail term of up to 30 days) if he or she purchases, uses, discharges, causes to be discharged, ignites, fires or otherwise sets in action, or possesses fireworks without having the required permit, according to the statement.

Any business that advertises, offers to sell or sells fireworks to residents of New Jersey is required to clearly and conspicuously disclose that fireworks, other than sparkling devices and novelties, are illegal to possess or use in New Jersey without a valid permit. Failure to do so would constitute a violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and its regulations, according to the statement.

A recent report issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission noted that 67% of all fireworks injuries were sustained during the 30-day period surrounding the Independence Day holiday; that more than 5,600 injuries occur nationwide due to fireworks (most often burns to the hands and head, including to the eyes, face, and ears) and 36% of the reported injuries occur to children under the age of 15, according to the statement.

The majority of fireworks injury reports involve emergency room treatment and release, but the more severe and fatal injuries were associated with the consumer’s use of professional grade and homemade fireworks, according to the statement.