Heading toward Independence day, officials in the city of Albany are promoting fireworks safety.
In advance of the 4th of July, officials are reminding residents to exercise extreme caution when using fireworks.
In 2015, New York left it up to individual counties to permit the sale and personal use of small fireworks. Albany County said "yes," and items like sparklers and holiday packages re-appeared on store shelves for the first time in years. Acting Albany Police Chief Robert Sears: "There's gonna be fireworks out there. We know that, regardless and if anyone thinks there's anything illegal, if anyone thinks someone's unsafe, or it's becoming a real problem, call the regular number, 438-4000, the police will come. And if it's a true emergency call 9-1-1 and we will respond as fast as we can."
In May, citing an increase in emergency calls around the 4th, Schenectady County legislators repealed the 2015 law. Columbia County also said "no" to small fireworks, which are also taboo next door in Massachusetts.
Albany Fire Chief Warren Abriel points out that any igniting of permitted fireworks like sparklers should be adult-supervised. "Never point fireworks at any person. Never throw fireworks at another person. Be sure you have a bucket of water or a garden hose available in case there is any mishap. And finally, always remember to soak spent fireworks in a bucket of water or with a garden hose, so you don't end up igniting any type of trash fire."
Independence Day noise can be trying for household pets, small children and others. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan suggests revelers follow this rule-of-thumb: "Anything that shoots up in the air is not legal. Anything that creates a big boom is not legal. And it's resulting in injury, it's resulting in a huge increase in response calls, and our Commissioner Jones of our Department of Recreation, Youth and Workforce Services pointed out, you know we have a number of veterans who live this community for whom these fireworks can trigger PTSD. We have young children who hear these loud noises and it's really frightening for seniors. We get calls because people can't distinguish. Are those gunshots that are going off? Are they fireworks? And so we wanna demonstrate for people very visually what is permitted and what isn't permitted and that's what today was all about, so we wanna make sure that people are on notice that when we get those calls, if we show up and there are illegal fireworks there they will be confiscated and people can be ultimately ticketed and fined."
Chief Sears says when it comes to illegal fireworks, city police rarely make arrests. "Typically we try to deal with them in a conversational way. Most people are pretty good. But a lot of the times we don't get the opportunity to have that conversation."
Mayor Sheehan suggets those seeking big booms and aerial fireworks displays plan to visit New York State's Fourth of July Celebration at the Empire State Plaza:
2:00 p.m. Grounds open
3:00 p.m. Welcome and Naturalization Ceremony
4:00 p.m. Garland Nelson and Soul Session
5:30 p.m. Tonic Live in Concert
7:15 p.m. New York State's 4th of July Official Program and C-130 Flyover Event
9:15 p.m. Fireworks! (Rain date - July 5)