Wilkes-Barre fire chief pushing ordinance with extensive limits on fireworks

By Jerry Lynott - [email protected]
Delaney -

WILKES-BARRE — A proposed ordinance aims to take the bang out of the consumer-grade fireworks legalized by the state and further limit their use in the city.

The measure won’t ban them outright, but it will make it tough to find a place to set them off in the city, said Wilkes-Barre Fire Department Chief Jay Delaney at council’s work session Tuesday.

Under Act 43 of 2017, consumer fireworks such as spinning wheels, fountains and those that launch into the air cannot be set off within 150 feet of an occupied building. The ordinance up for the first of two readings at council’s 6 p.m. public meeting Thursday would make it illegal to set them off on city streets, sidewalks, parks and all city-owned property.

“So you tell me where in Wilkes-Barre can you do that,” Delaney asked council as he lobbied for support of the ordinance.

Other municipalities throughout the state that have career fire departments like Wilkes-Barre are pursuing similarly strong sanctions, Delaney said. Easton’s fire chief is going before council Wednesday, he noted.

“I live in Miners Mills and it sounded like a war zone,” Delaney said of the noise from fireworks July 4. That night, firefighters responded to 51 Wyoming St., where discarded fireworks ignited the side of a house.

Councilwoman Beth Gilbert said she was in favor of the ordinance. But she asked, “Is this something that we’ll be able to enforce with the manpower that we have?”

Delaney acknowledged it would be useless without enforcement.

“The state made the law. We just have to try to find a way to live within it and enforce it. So your question is spot on,” he responded.

City Administrator Ted Wampole called for a repeal of the state law.

But if the ordinance is passed, the city will enforce it, Wampole said.

Council vice chairman Mike Belusko indicated he would support the ordinance that he said effectively outlaws the use of legal fireworks within Wilkes-Barre.

“Essentially, it’s the whole city,” Belusko said of the restrictions imposed by the ordinance.


By Jerry Lynott

[email protected]

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.