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Sparking change
State legalizes two pyrotechnics in time for the Fourth

06/29/17
By Ryan Lessard news@hippopress.com



 Two bills signed into law this year have legalized firecrackers and something called “toy smoke devices” for consumer use.

Against the objections of the New Hampshire Fire Marshal’s office and opposition from most Democratic lawmakers, the legislature legalized the devices. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed the toy smoke device bill on June 16 and the firecracker bill on June 2. Both bills went into effect immediately.
An attempt to legalize firecrackers last year was vetoed by then-Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat.
Republican Rep. David Welch of Kingston said both votes were largely along party lines. Those in opposition said firecrackers were potentially dangerous. Nationally, firecrackers are consistently listed among the top three fireworks devices that cause injury, along with reloadable mortars and bottle rockets. Reloadable mortars became legal in the state about six years ago, while bottle rockets are still banned. But Welch said those concerns are overblown.
“Firecrackers when I was growing up were rather large,” Welch said. “Today’s firecrackers are approved by the federal government. … They’re no longer the dangerous type that I grew up with.”
Those smaller firecrackers approved by the federal government and now the state are limited to 50 milligrams of powder. 
Fire Marshal Bill Degnan said the risk is that they’re so small, children or adults might think they’re harmless and not use caution. 
Welch is skeptical of such claims.
“If they had their way, and I’ve said this before, they’d ban matches,” Welch said of the Fire Marshal’s office.
The main reason to legalize firecrackers and toy smoke devices, Welch said, is to make sure New Hampshire can compete with states like Maine, where fireworks were recently legalized, including firecrackers.
Toy smoke devices are small (containing not more than 100 grams of pyrotechnic composition) and produce moderate puffs of smoke, sometimes colored. Welch said he tried to legalize those a couple years ago but he called them “smoke bombs” in the bill, so it didn’t ultimately pass.
“My mistake. Wrong name,” Welch said.
The bill will also help fireworks retailers save some money now that they can sell variety packs as is, Welch said.
“The toy smoke devices are included in the kits that the dealers buy and they sell. Well, because we had a prohibition on smoke bombs ... they had to cut those out of those packages and then substitute it for something else. And that’s a lot of labor when they’re selling an awful lot of these kits,” Welch said.
Degnan worries toy smoke devices could be hazardous if misused inside a building.
While certain fireworks devices might be legal in the state, individual communities can ban the use or sale of fireworks, so consumers must check with their towns and cities before igniting firecrackers. 
Towns like Londonderry, Derry, Hooksett, Candia and Bedford allow fireworks, but places like Salem and Nashua have banned them. Manchester and Portsmouth residents need a special permit. 





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