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Illegal Fireworks Are Back in NYC, and So Is the Task Force to Snuff Out the Noise and Make the City Safer

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Melissa Toldy
Melissa Toldy
 14 days ago
Karen Grigorean

New York City - For the New Yorkers who stayed in the city last year, many of us heard the loud crackling noises that characterized the summer nights of 2020. Complaints of illegal fireworks in New York City reached an all-time high, with thousands calling 311 to report on the nuisance. For comparison, in 2019, less than 20 calls were logged regarding fireworks complaints.

Now, the sounds have started up again. Illegal fireworks were shot off in Williamsburg, Brooklyn two nights ago, as reported by Williamsburg News on Twitter. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to get ahead of the problem, and he announced the reinstatement of the Illegal Fireworks Task Force on Wednesday.

Illegal fireworks are noisy, they disrupt the peace of neighborhoods, but they can also be dangerous. Our job is to pull together many agencies to stop the fireworks from coming into New York City to begin with. - Mayor Bill de Blasio

Many New Yorkers were simply annoyed by the noise disturbance of the illegal fireworks. Getting decent sleep can already be a challenge during the summer in the city. Most of us don’t have central air in our century-old apartments, and we have to contend with the humidity, as well as the rising temperatures. But the Illegal Fireworks Task Force is also concerned about safety.

Last year in the Bronx, a 3-year-old boy was injured after an illegal firework had been set off outside his window.

"Fireworks are illegal in New York City for a reason: they are extremely dangerous and can cause fires and serious injuries,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro, back in 2020 when they announced the task force.

Our Fire Marshals will work closely with their fellow law enforcement agencies to address this growing problem that is impacting New Yorkers in communities across our city. - Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro

This time around, the task force will consist of FDNY Fire Marshals, NYPD Intelligence, and there will be partnerships with the Port Authority, the police departments in New York, New Jersey, and Yonkers, as well as the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

If you’re wondering why there was a huge uptick in illegal fireworks during the coronavirus pandemic last year, no one really knows the answer. Buzzfeed News talked to the co-owner of Sky King Fireworks in Pennsylvania, Joe VanOudenhove III. He guessed that people had been cooped up for too long, and they were looking for ways to “entertain themselves on a budget.”

Also, many fireworks companies shifted their marketing directly to consumers, since many big events had been cancelled last year, and the fireworks displays were canceled with them. Without the revenue from commercial clients, businesses offered special deals (such as buy one, get two free) to entice more customers.

Did the illegal fireworks in NYC bother you last summer? Are you hoping for a quieter and safer summer this year?

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