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Setting off legal fireworks could cost you a fine

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Just because the Fourth of July is over doesn't mean the fireworks stop. Police all across Central Pennsylvania have been fielding complaints about fireworks at all hours of the day.

It was John Adams who wished  each Independence Day from 1776 forward and forever more, be celebrated with illuminations from one end of the continent to the other.  Those types of illuminations have police departments in Dauphin County responding to hundreds of calls, even after the Fourth of July.

"Usually noise related, some safety related, and stuff with fireworks falling on rooms and stuff like that," said Cpl. Walt Cook with Lower Paxton Township Police. "Most of it's been noise related."

Fireworks often exceed 150 decibels. Lower Paxton Township has a noise ordinance of 60 decibels between 7 a.m.  and 9 p.m. and 55 decibels from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. To put those levels into perspective, a somewhat busy street in Harrisburg reads about 80 decibels.

"The typical way to handle it, is if they're keeping people up and they're not doing it the way they should be," said Cpl. Cook. "It's a disorderly conduct citation."

Swatara Township Police also issuing disorderly conduct citations or noise ordinance violations for fireworks. Their noise ordinance is in place 24/7. It doesn't measure noise by decibels but is defined as an "unnecessary or annoying noise or sound" leaving it up to officers responding to calls to use their discretion. Swatara Township Police urge anyone planning to light fireworks to let their neighbors know ahead of time.

"Let them know you're planning to do this," said Lt. Thomas Stauffer, Swatara Township Police. "So it doesn't come as a surprise to them when they hear the fireworks go off."

In Harrisburg, no one within city limits is allowed to set off any combustible fireworks. Even with the being prohibited, Harrisburg Police have responded to 62 calls in relation to fireworks in the last eight days. Captain Gabriel Olivera with Harrisburg Police says the calls not only put a strain on the department, but on the community.

"We are responding to other calls, we may not be able to get to fireworks much quicker," said Capt. Olivera. "So usually by the time officers get there, usually 10-15 minutes later they're already been shot off and it's over with."

Police remind anyone planning to shoot off fireworks to check with their local township or municipality for fireworks or noise ordinances.