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Albany County Legislature Announces Legislation to Prohibit Use, Sale of Fireworks

Officials cite safety hazards and impacts to children, pets and veterans

Post Date:06/29/2020 7:14 pm

Albany County Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce and Legislators Matthew Peter and Sean Ward were joined today by local elected officials and residents at Hudson-Jay Park in Albany to announce legislation restricting the use of fireworks in Albany County due to safety hazards and quality of life concerns among residents, such as veterans and children.

“Incoming mortar rounds would wake me up on some morning at Baghdad International Airport while I served in Iraq. It was an unpleasant experience and now people in Albany County are dealing with similar sounds as fireworks explode in the street. This is unacceptable,” Joyce said. “Opting out of legal sparklers in Albany County will be a good first start in keeping our communities quiet and safe. It will also help law enforcement crack down on large illegal fireworks as well.”

The local law prohibits the use and sale of fireworks, also known as sparklers, in Albany County, repealing a local law adopted in 2016 following the legalization of fireworks in New York State.

“Four years ago the Albany County Legislature opted in to allowing certain fireworks to be legally sold in the County. The size and extent of the fireworks this enabled has led to unexpected negative consequences that are effecting the quality of life in our neighborhoods,” Sponsor Matthew Peter said. “In response to this it is only appropriate that the Albany County Legislature take the small step to combating the issue by opting out and making all fireworks illegal in Albany County.”

Co-Sponsor Sean Ward said, “This year has seen a troubling pattern of more explosive devices and there has been a significant increase in the use of illegal fireworks every year since we legalized sparklers in 2016. We have also seen injuries attributed to the use of sparklers, many in children under the age of 14 years old. The injury report is enough to support this legislation. It also sends a message that no fireworks are legal.”

Local resident and veteran Dr. Gerald Ladouceur, who works as a deacon and chaplain at the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center, said he wishes people would think about the “vets and pets” that may be in the area before setting off fireworks. He explained that both react to loud noises differently than others and can be negatively impacted when fireworks are set off unexpectedly.

City officials said the city has been dealing with an increasing amount of complaints about individuals lighting fireworks in the neighborhood.

“This is a problem that cities across the country are facing, and it’s unacceptable,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “Fireworks are causing trauma for people with PTSD, infants, children, seniors and pets, make it hard to breathe, and impact the quality of life for our neighbors. I applaud Chair Joyce, Legislator Peter, and Legislator Ward for introducing this legislation, and urge its swift passage.”

Legislators Lynne Lekakis, Bill Ricard and Bob Beston, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple and local residents were also in attendance to show their support.

The local law will be introduced at the next Albany County Legislature meeting on July 13.

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