NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

July 11, 2014

NH needs to put damper on 'mortar' fireworks

Two years after 13 people, including five children, were injured in a fireworks accident in Pelham, N.H., another town resident suffered serious injuries to his hand — from the same type of device.

But New Hampshire lawmakers continue to hold “Live Free or Die” above reasonable restrictions on these potentially deadly devices.

Efforts to restrict certain types of fireworks in recent years have fizzled.

The state fire marshal had strong words for the state’s position after the most recent accident. He wants to see the state restrict fireworks sales and, ultimately, ban them.

There appears to be small chance of that. A drive along Route 1 in Seabrook provides ample evidence.

Of particular concern are reloadable mortar shells, to blame in both Pelham accidents. Lawmakers also have considered bans on spinners and parachutes, which can travel a fair distance and ignite other fireworks or start fires. It’s believed a spinner landed on a pile of reloadable mortars, igniting them, in the 2012 accident.

Well, some argue, it wasn’t the device but rather improper handling of it that resulted in injury. Right.

This firework is marketed as one that allows ordinary citizens to shoot just like professionals, sending shells high into the sky to burst into an awe-inspiring aerial display.

But the man whose home was the scene of the first incident two years ago called them more dangerous than other types of fireworks. He supports a ban.

Pelham fire Chief James Midgely this week reiterated the concerns he has expressed since the 2012 incident. Then, he asked what price was too high to pay for backyard entertainment.

That still holds true.

Reloadable mortar shells were not available for more than a decade in the state. That’s when the state maintained two fireworks lists — one of legal devices, one of illegal ones.

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