Fireworks safety stressed for 4th of July celebrations

By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected]
Miller -
Blocker -
Holden -

WILKES-BARRE — With the Fourth of July just days away, the Wolf Administration is urging Pennsylvanians to keep fireworks safety and laws in mind.

Fireworks used improperly can result in serious injury. Fireworks can also cause fires and other damage to homes and property, as well as liability issues if someone else is injured.

“In addition to being a cause of frequent injury around the Fourth of July holiday, fires or other property damage from fireworks can be costly when it comes to your homeowners’ insurance,” Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller said in a news release. “Property damage often means consumers must file a claim, and if a claim results in the insurer making a monetary payment, the homeowners’ premiums could rise as a result. In addition, homeowners are responsible for paying any deductible on the policy out-of-pocket.”

Miller also noted not all homeowners’ insurance policies are alike, so consumers could even run the risk of having a claim denied.

State Police Commissioner Tyree C. Blocker noted that state law prohibits the use of consumer and display fireworks without a permit issued by the local municipality where the display will take place. Families celebrating July 4 should leave the fireworks shows to the professionals.

“All display fireworks that shoot into the air and items like firecrackers, M-80s, and cherry bombs are prohibited for use by the general public,” Blocker said. “Any law enforcement officer having jurisdiction may confiscate prohibited fireworks and make an arrest for violation of the fireworks law.”

In 2015, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released a report on injuries, fires, and associated losses due to the use of fireworks. Commissioner Miller also noted the NFPA report found significant property damage is caused by fireworks each year.

• Fireworks cause an estimated 18,500 reported fires per year.

• An average of $43 million in property damage is caused by fires started from fireworks annually.

For safety tips on how to responsibly handle fireworks, visit

MADD reminds public

drunk driving is

biggest roadway threat

As families and friends across America make plans to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday with barbecues and beach outings, Mothers Against Drunk Driving wants to remind everyone that drunk driving is still the biggest killer on our roadways.

“If your plans include alcohol, designate a non-drinking driver to make sure celebrations don’t end in tragedy,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church, whose 18-year-old son Dustin was killed in an underage drunk and drugged driving crash. “We know the summer months put more people on the road, and we want everyone to stay safe this summer.”

In 2015, 146 people were killed in drunk driving crashes over the July 4 holiday, representing 36 percent of all traffic fatalities during that period. Many people will start their long weekend on Friday, stretching the holiday over five days and putting more travelers on the road.

Every year, about 10,000 people die as the result of drunk driving and 290,000 are injured. The number of deaths caused by drunk driving increased for the first time in 50 years in 2015, and is expected to rise again when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration releases the 2016 traffic fatalities later this year.

Because of the increase in these preventable tragedies, MADD is expanding efforts to support law enforcement and promote new automotive technologies that will save lives and end drunk driving.

Starting this summer, volunteers will step up their presence with law enforcement at sobriety checkpoints with increased support for the work officers do to eliminate drunk driving.

“Law enforcement is under tremendous pressure,” said Sheehey-Church. “Arrests are down across the board at a critical time. Law enforcement is the first line of defense in getting drunk drivers off the road. We are talking with top law enforcement officials across the country to better determine their needs so that we can better assist police in supporting sobriety checkpoints, law enforcement budgets and officer safety issues.”

On June 14, Sheehey-Church testified before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in support of autonomous vehicle technology as another way to combat drunk driving. During the testimony, MADD shared its vision for this technology. MADD supports the development of future automotive technologies that could eventually eliminate drunk driving, including Autonomous Vehicles.

In addition to autonomous vehicles, MADD has helped lead the effort to fund and support the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, a passive alcohol detection system that is now being tested and will be installed in new cars in the near future. MADD looks forward to working with the new Administration to make continued DADSS development a priority.

Sheehey-Church said the increase in drunk driving deaths after a gradual decline in the 2000s must be a wake-up call.

“While we have been successful in reducing drunk driving over the past 10 years, 10,000 deaths each year is unacceptable,” said Sheehey-Church. “This must be a call to action for the nation to focus on proven countermeasures.”

PLCB awards $2.3M

in grants to reduce

underage drinking

Committed to providing financial support to reduce underage and dangerous alcohol consumption, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board this week announced it will award almost $2.3 million to 66 schools, community organizations, municipalities, law enforcement organizations, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher education through the 2017-19 Alcohol Education Grant Program.

“This year, we’re awarding a record amount of funding to the most grant recipients we’ve ever approved through this grant program because we know how important these local projects are to alcohol education and public health and safety,” said PLCB Chairman Tim Holden. “Preventing underage and irresponsible drinking is an important part of our mission, one we take very seriously, and we’ve awarded more than $14.1 million in grants since 1999.”

Of 99 grant applications received, 66 organizations from 33 counties across Pennsylvania were awarded a total of $2,295,090 in grants. The maximum award for each two-year grant is $40,000.

Of the grants awarded:

• More than 40 will fund community law-enforcement efforts for targeted underage patrols, training, and equipment.

• 17 will be used to support community and nonprofit organizations by funding initiatives such as Project Alert, Project Northland, the Strengthening Families Program, Project Sticker Shock and enforcement efforts.

• 3 will go to primary and secondary schools to fund various programs aimed at reaching students, such as enforcement during school special events and programs including Alcohol Wise, MADD’s Power of Parents, and Parents Who Host, Lose the Most.

• 22 college and university grants will help schools develop strategies to reduce underage and dangerous alcohol use through surveys and assessments, enforcement efforts, attendance at alcohol education conferences, training for resident assistants, peer education programs, and evidence-informed programs like CHOICES, Alcohol Edu®, and Operation Buzzkill.

The complete list of grant recipients and projects is available at




By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.