New regulations regarding permitting and use of fireworks were suggested to the Town Council by Acting Fire Chief Darren O’Brien. The suggestions were the result of a professional fireworks display held recently at the Londonderry Fish and Game Club, which led to literally hundreds of noise complaints from residents of Londonderry and surrounding towns.
O’Brien told the Town Council at Monday night’s meeting that the fire marshal had polled surrounding communities on their regulations, permit fees and ordinances. “I think we had more than most, and we are here to give you our input and to see if you have any input if there’s something there that you don’t see that you would like to see,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien’s recommendations include removing the permit fee for Class C fireworks, a $50 fee for fireworks purchases over $500. “What this $50 permit fee allows us to do is to go out and inspect the area where the fireworks will be set off. The problem that we have is that there is not a great way to police that,” O’Brien said. “They buy $500 worth of fireworks on say a Wednesday and get the permit, and by Sunday they have $2,000 worth and tell us they’re going to shoot them off over here, and end up shooting them off over there. So I think just doing away with it altogether is the best way to handle it.”
Another suggestion was that fireworks be allowed to be set off only between the hours of 6 and 10 p.m. Currently, the Londonderry noise ordinance allows fireworks from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. O’Brien also suggested that class C fireworks be allowed only on days where the fire risk is medium or lower.
For professional or Class B fireworks, a $1,000 permit fee would be allowed. This category of fireworks would be allowed only for town-sponsored events such as Old Home Day. Town Council Chairman John Farrell asked whether, if the high school football team wanted to have a professional pyrotechnic display, that would be considered town-sponsored.” Farrell suggested tightening the wording of the proposed ordinance.
Lastly O’Brien said that Class B displays would be required to have a fire department detail and apparatus present at the display. That is what occurs at Old Home Day. Farrell said the suggestions should be put in ordinance form and it should go through a public hearing process.
Councilor Tom Freda said some people might get a permit on one day and want to shoot the fireworks on another day, so perhaps the permits should be given on the day of the fireworks being set off, and have an expiration date.
Farrell said 95 percent of fireworks sales are around the Fourth of July, and having permitting on that day would be a burden for the fire department, with hundreds of people wanting permits on one day. He asked O’Brien to check with the town Information Technology department about the possibility of getting permits online or “self permitting.”
Councilor Joe Green asked about town liability for Class B displays if they had to be town sponsored.
Fire Marshal Brian Johnson said pyrotechnic companies are required to have insurance and therefore the town was covered under that insurance. Resident Don Jorgenson said he had a concern with noise, saying some people came to the “bedroom community of Londonderry for peace and quiet.”
Councilor Tom Dolan responded that this was the reason for a noise ordinance and after 10 p.m., noise levels must be reduced. Jorgenson said he had been hearing constant fireworks and something needed to be done. Farrell suggested speaking with fire department officials to try to resolve the issue.
No further action was taken Monday night.