Monday, June 30, 2008

No new fireworks inspector until after July 4

Article published Jun 27, 2008 in New Hampshire Business Review

In its last session, the Legislature passed, and Governor Lynch recently signed into law, a measure enabling the state fire marshal better crack down on the sale of illegal fireworks. But even though the law went into effect immediately, it won’t make much difference in the days leading up to this coming July Fourth.

The law, which was passed May 14 and signed on June 11, increases licensing fees from $40 to $100 for those transporting fireworks and imposes a new fee of up to $250 for those engaged in indoor displays or explosives. The money would be used to hire a year-round fireworks inspector.

Stephen Pelkey, CEO of Jaffrey-based Atlas PyroVision Productions -- the largest fireworks company in the state -- said he doesn’t mind the fees, or the new notice requirements of 72 hours before a fireworks show. He said his firm wanted to make sure that illegal fireworks – ranging from cherry bombs to rockets – not be sold.

“We want to protect legitimate businesses by responding to those who do not play by the rules,” he said.

But state lawmakers simply acted too late to hire someone in time for this year’s July Fourth displays, said John Raymond, assistant director at the state fire marshal’s office. To hire someone for a new position, the fire marshal will have to go through the Department of Administrative Services Personnel Division, meaning the best he could expect would be to hire someone at the end of the July.

“I was hoping to have someone on board, but that’s how things happen in Concord,” he said.

The fireworks inspector’s job involves more than inspections. He or she would educate store owners on what can be legally sold and increase awareness in the general public.

Meanwhile, those selling illegal fireworks shouldn’t think no one is out there.

“I’ve got fire inspectors out there, walking through stores, seeing what they are selling. A lot of storeowners are being inspected today, and they don’t even know it,” Raymond said. – BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

© 2007, New Hampshire Business Review, Manchester, New Hampshire

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