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Fireworks, the law, and you: What’s legal in New York State ahead of the Fourth of July

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It’s fireworks season with the Fourth of July on Thursday, and that’s got some people looking to buy some fireworks for themselves.

There are plenty of fireworks tents popping up all over the region, including a TNT Fireworks stand on Union Road in Cheektowaga.

But what’s actually legal in New York State?

7 News Senior Reporter Maki Becker with attorney Peter Pullano, an attorney and managing partner at Tully Rinckey in Rochester.

“Not everything is legal in New York and in fact, very little is legal in New York,” Pullano said.

Sparklers are legal. So are “fountains,” the kind that stay on the ground and shoot out sparks.

“But if it flies in the air or goes bang, it is probably illegal in New York State,” Pullano said.

He also pointed out that if you’re using fireworks on your property and someone gets hurt, you could get sued. That’s even if the fireworks are legal. But if they aren’t?

“If you’re using fireworks that are illegal in the first place, and someone is injured, you’ve increased your own civil liability because you’ve broken the law and caused an injury,” he said.

Ben Keller, the branch chief of New York State Fire, said it’s best not to use any fireworks. But if you do decide to use any of those legal in the state, he recommended some common-sense tips, like keeping them away from small children, keeping a distance from structures and trees and having water nearby.

“The first thing that we encourage you to do is review the safety instructions from the manufacturer. A lot of the major manufacturers will have websites where you can actually view what the product will do before you purchase it. So we encourage folks to look at that,” Keller said.

Al Bauer, who runs the stand on Union Road, said he sells a wide variety of sparklers and fountains, including packages that provide up to a five-minute long show. He has to get a special permit for the stand and can only have it up from June 20 until July 5. He has to follow strict safety protocols, including having multiple kinds of fire extinguishers and having a second exit for the tent.

All of the items are legal in New York State, he said.

He advises against folks going to Pennsylvania to buy the kinds of fireworks that are illegal in New York State.

“If you get caught crossing state lines, you will be arrested by the Federal Marshals. They’re sitting there at, as you’re pulling out, they’re right behind you,” he warned.

Among those shopping for safer fireworks were Jessica Musanti and Michael Garra, who make sure to keep their 8-year-old son safe…but entertained.

They don’t let him light the fireworks, for instance.

“You have to use it how it’s directed to be used, you know, and a lot of people don’t, some people try to tie them together and then try to, they’re trying to light multiple at the same time and that’s when you run into the problem,” Garra said

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