NH Senate passes bill to legalize firecrackers, citing Maine competition

Posted May 05, 2017, at 10:36 a.m.
Last modified May 23, 2017, at 10 p.m.

CONCORD, New Hampshire — A bill to legalize firecrackers in New Hampshire passed both the House and Senate and the governor intends to sign it.

The bill passed the Senate Friday. Gov. Chris Sununu’s spokesman Benjamin Vihstadt said Sununu is expected to sign it into law.

Firework retailers in New Hampshire said the new law will bring them closer in line with states like Maine, where firecrackers are legal to sell.

Steve Carbone, who owns Atomic Fireworks on Lafayette Road in Seabrook, said he and other firework retailers in New Hampshire lose customers to stores in Maine. He testified at the Statehouse in favor of the bill legalizing firecrackers and is also advocating for another bill that will legalize toy smoke, or smoke balls.

“We’ve been losing some of our customers that come out of Connecticut, Massachusetts, because we can’t sell firecrackers, they’ve been going to Maine and shopping there,” Carbone said. “This just puts us on an even keel there with Maine so we don’t lose our customers to them.”

The push to legalize firecrackers is part of a years-long process by the fireworks community to lift bans on numerous types of fireworks, all of which were banned in the early 1990s except fountains, Carbone said. At the time of the ban, Carbone said a committee was established to determine which specific types of fireworks could be legalized. The committee looked at more than 100 types of fireworks at a time each year with the state fire marshal, and they voted on which would be legalized that year. Carbone served on that committee for several years.

A blanket ban on aerial fireworks was lifted about 10 years ago, Carbone said, but that did not include certain classes of fireworks like firecrackers. Since then, advocates have worked to have bans on the rest of the fireworks classes repealed. The Legislature lifted a ban on artillery shells a couple of years ago, and firecrackers and toy smoke were next in the process.

Smoke balls are technically not fireworks, Carbone said, but they were included in a ban on smoke bombs, which create dense amounts of smoke. HB 100 will amend language in the law to distinguish smoke bombs from smoke balls.

Carbone said firecrackers, which explode on the ground with a loud bang and white smoke, are much less powerful than many of the aerial fireworks he sells. Firecrackers only have 50 milligrams of powder, while some of his other fireworks have 60 grams. He said they were more powerful years ago.

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