Kingston, NY – County Executive Hein invited the New York State Police Bomb Disposal Unit to the Ulster County Law Enforcement Center this morning to conduct a demonstration with explosives, in order to highlight the dangers of fireworks and to encourage Ulster County residents and visitors to enjoy the free public fireworks displays hosted by local muncipalities.
“This demonstration is a reminder to celebrate our County’s Independence Day safely,” said County Executive Hein.  “So many tragedies can be avoided by steering clear of illegal fireworks.  I am joined here today by representatives from the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office and the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office to make sure people know that if they are caught with illegal fireworks, they will be prosecuted. They are illegal in New York State because they are dangerous.   I hate to think that anyone, especially a child, is going to be harmed by illegal fireworks when safe public fireworks displays will be happening around Ulster County on July 4th and over the holiday weekend.”
According to the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission:
65 percent of all fireworks injuries in 2011 were sustained during the 30 days surrounding the Independence Day holiday.
More than half of these injuries were the result of an unexpected ignition of the device or consumers not using fireworks as intended. Fireworks injuries most often resulted in burns to the hands and head, including the eyes, face, and ears.  
In 2011 four Americans died from firework-related injuries
Between 2000 and 2011, there was an average of 6.6 deaths per year due to firework-related injuries.
 Approximately 9,600 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2011
Children under 15 years old accounted for 26 percent of the estimated fireworks-related injuries.
According to the Sight and Hearing Association, every year, about 400 Americans lose sight in one or both eyes due to fireworks.  Fireworks contribute to approximately 15,500 fires every year which cause approximately $36 million in property damage according to the National Fire Protection Association.
District Attorney D. Holley Carnright stated, “Possession of fireworks is illegal for a reason.  These are materials that are inherently dangerous.  My office joins the County Executive's initiative to make Ulster County a safe place to live.  Please celebrate our independence safely, responsibly and legally.”
Richard K Parrish, Ulster County EMS Coordinator, said, “I commend the County Executive for hosting this demonstration.  Fireworks can and will hurt you.  During this time of the year, your local EMS / fire agencies respond to incidents involving the improper and illegal use of fireworks.  During last year’s fireworks season, I personally responded to a call where a young man was lighting fireworks.  I transported him to the hospital, because he lost part of his left hand.  Do not let this happen to you.  Leave the fireworks to the professionals.”
John Reinhardt, Chief of the City of Kingston Fire Department, said, “Fireworks injure thousands of people every year across the United States, mainly because the people using them are inexperienced and lack the knowledge to safety handle fireworks.  I strongly urge Ulster County residents to use only legal items and to use extreme caution when using them.   Also, do not allow young children to participate.”
Charles Mutz, Ulster County Chief Fire Coordinator, said, “I wish to thank County Executive Hein for striving to raise public awareness about the harm that fireworks inflict on people, family pets, wildlife and the environment.  Fireworks harm and kill people. Firecrackers, rockets and sparklers account for many injuries seen in emergency departments during the July 4th holiday. Fireworks damage and destroy property, damage and destroy the environment and even harm pets and wildlife. Irresponsible use of fireworks poses a danger to everyone.”
Ulster County Sheriff Paul VanBlarcum provided the following information:
“Under the New York State Penal Law, any person who possesses, uses, or explodes any fireworks is guilty of a violation. The law defines fireworks to include firecrackers and sparklers. Violations are punishable by up to fifteen days in jail or a fine of up to $250 for each offense.
The criminal penalties are even more severe for people who offer fireworks for sale, or sell or furnish any fireworks to another person. Selling–or even giving away–fireworks to someone else is a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to three months in jail and a fine of up to $500. Offering to sell, selling or furnishing more than $500 worth of fireworks is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000.
Selling or furnishing “dangerous fireworks”–which are defined by law to include larger firecrackers and sparklers more than ten inches long or one-quarter inch thick–to a person under the age of eighteen is a class A misdemeanor. A first offense carries a possible one-year jail term and a maximum fine of $1,000. A repeat offense committed within five years of a previous conviction is a felony under the law, which could result in a state prison term of up to four years and a fine of up to $5,000.”
This year, public fireworks displays will be held:
City of Kingston - on the Kingston Waterfront
Ellenville - behind Shop Rite
Saugerties - at Cantine Field
Walkway Over the Hudson – at Highland Landing Park along Riverfront
New Paltz – at the Ulster County Fairgrounds