By CAROL ROBIDOUX
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Don't expect fireworks to erupt over a planned public hearing to officially ban fireworks – fireworks are already banned. It's just that no one can find record of the vote by the town council, which happened sometime back in the 1980s.
So to make it officially official, the council will vote again to prohibit the sale, display and possession of fireworks following a public hearing scheduled for June 15. It's a formality law enforcement officials hope will help deter the constant calls for rogue fireworks that persist, particularly between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
“The calls are endless this time of year,” said Derry Police Capt. Vern Thomas, who added that the ban is primarily a safety issue.
“People are unsafe with the way they use fireworks, and often there's a degree of alcohol use involved,” Thomas said.
He said Derry suffered an expensive incident in July of 2005, when a fire on the roof of the newly constructed Barka Elementary School caused extensive water damage to about eight classroom on two floors, and destroyed a 30-by-50 foot area of the roof.
That blaze was started by errant fireworks, Thomas said.
Town Administrator Gary Stenhouse said there is often confusion about the legality of fireworks from town to town – because they are not prohibited by the state, it's up to municipalities to decide whether to sell or allow fireworks, and if so, which type.
Just because residents of Derry can drive over the town line into Londonderry to buy pyrotechnics at Atlas Fireworks Factory on Rockingham Road doesn't mean they should – not unless they are taking them to some other town without restrictions to shoot them off.
According to the State Department of Safety Division of Fire Safety website, general restrictions across the state are that a person must be 21 or older to buy and display fireworks. Fireworks can only be set off on your own private property or property on which you have written permission to do so by the property owner and, of course, in a town where it's still legal. Firecrackers, bottle rockets and reloadable type shells are universally illegal, no matter which town you're in.
For a the current list of fireworks restrictions by town, go to www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/index.html, and link to the Community Restriction List by clicking the “Fireworks” link.