Saratoga County

Saratoga County supervisors OK sparkler law

Saratoga County supervisors today approved a law making sparklers and other small fireworks legal, p

Saratoga County supervisors today approved a law making sparklers and other small fireworks legal, perhaps in time for this Fourth of July.

The unanimous vote at a meeting in Ballston Spa makes Saratoga the second county in the state, after Essex, to legalize the devices.

Anyone who wants to sell them, though, is still going to have to obtain a permit from the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control, and that office has yet to issue regulations to govern the permits, so it remains unclear whether permits will be issued in time for this year’s July 4th holiday.

“This is huge,” said Tom Gabay, a retired New York City firefighter who is hoping to get a permit to sell the small devices.

“I can’t go forward and get a permit until they approve it. It was very important, what Saratoga County did today,” he said.

The supervisors acted under a new state law that took effect Jan. 1 and allows the sale of sparklers, caps and similarly small pyrotechnics between June 1 and July 5 each year, as well as for a week before New Year’s Day, another holiday when fireworks are popular. Only individuals ages 18 and older would be able to buy them.

The law includes a provision that counties must opt into the sales through a local law. They will remain forbidden in New York City.

Essex County on March 2 became the first county in the state to approve a local law. Other counties, including Warren, are considering measures, but have yet to act.

At a public hearing Feb. 11, organizations representing firefighters and fire chiefs expressed their opposition, saying even small fireworks can be dangerous. Backers of legalization say there will be economic benefits, however, and residents also won’t have to travel out of state to buy the devices, as they do now.

Until the state Legislature passed the sparkler law last year, New York was one of just four states that prohibited the sale of all pyrotechnic devices.

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