Antrim passes firework and Tannerite ordinance after rash of safety complaints

  • The Jaffrey Chamber of Commerce held its 25th Festival of Fireworks in 2016. Monadnock Ledger Transcript file

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/1/2021 5:07:59 PM

Antrim’s new fireworks and Tannerite ordinance is aimed at defining safe and responsible displays in advance of Independence Day.

“We wanted something on paper that we can enforce,” Officer Leland Hunter said, so that police could keep the peace in town while allowing people to have a good time, within responsible parameters. Antrim’s Fire Chief Marshall Gale, former Police Chief Scott Lester and current Police Chief Brian Lord drafted the ordinance, based on similar laws enacted in other New Hampshire towns. The Select Board signed it on June 21 after making some final adjustments.

“Our goal was not to go out and bust everybody for lighting off a bottle rocket, but we need to do it the proper way, the safe way,” Gale said. That meant the town needed “something a little bit more” than the state statutes they’d been following, he said, which more or less just required firework purchasers and users to be over 21.

In the past couple years, town fire and police personnel have responded to a number of injuries and fires caused by fireworks, Gale said. There’s been a lot of unsafe situations, he said, citing complaints in which fireworks landed on a neighbor’s roof, or a situation last summer where Main Street residents were shooting fireworks up into utility wires from the street. Gale compared last July 4 to “the wild, wild West” as residents let out some of their pent-up stress from COVID-19 restrictions with fireworks. “It seemed like an every weekend occurrence,” during the summer, Gale said.

“We’ve got several bad actors, let’s put it that way,” Select Board Chair John Robertson said of the inspiration for the ordinance, citing instances of inconsiderate or dangerous use.

Although the ordinance references the potential for frightening pets and livestock with fireworks, or causing public annoyance, alarm, or a breach of the peace with Tannerite, safety is its primary goal, rather than noise control, Gale said.

The ordinance defines permissible classes of fireworks and limits their discharge to Fridays and Saturdays between 6 and 11 p.m., except for New Years Eve and July 4. Residents can also apply for special events exceptions. It requires that aerial display fireworks be ignited at least 75 feet from structures, power lines, woodlands, property lines, or boundaries. Some means for extinguishing fires is also required, according to the ordinance.

The ordinance also defines Tannerite as a brand of binary explosive targets used for firearms practice, and reiterates that their only legal use is as a shot indicator. Tannerite should be used in a remote area at least 100 yards from any structure and shouldn’t be used near any combustible materials, according to the ordinance. Tannerite language was included at the request of the Police Department, Gale said, in response to complaints received over the past year about excessive charges being used.

Failure to comply with the ordinance first results in a  written warning, then a $250 and $500 fine for second and third offenses. Costs associated with any fire or emergency resulting from the misuse of fireworks or Tannerite are the lighter’s responsibility, according to the ordinance.

The New Hampshire Department of Safety maintains a database of towns and their local restrictions on fireworks, available here.

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