B y Derek Liebig

The skies over Washington County could be a little brighter this Independence Day.

Washington County is considering a law that excludes certain items from the dangerous fireworks definition, thereby allowing the sale and use of “non-aerial sparkling devices and novelties.”

A public hearing on the proposed law will be held Friday at a meeting of the Washington County Board of Supervisors.

Last November, Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved a law permitting the sale and use of sparklers in New York (excluding New York City) but counties have the final say on whether the devices can be used in their jurisdictions.

Under the law, wooden sparklers, handle fountains, spike fountains, cylindrical base fountains and cone fountains are now legal to use in New York, as are novelties such as party poopers and snappers.

Businesses would need to be registered to sell the devices.

Firecrackers, sky rockets, metal wire sparklers, smoke cones and other aerial fireworks remain illegal to sell and possess in New York unless they are part of a permitted fireworks display.

The law drew criticism from the state’s Division of Consumer Protection last summer, which warned that sparklers, which can burn as hot as 1,000 degrees, are dangerous. And Gov. Cuomo had vetoed similar legislation in 2013, citing safety concerns.

The Division of Consumer Protection cited that 20 percent of firework-related injuries were attributed to sparklers and sky/bottle rockets, although the latter remains illegal under the new law.

Gary Evens, representing the Washington County Fire Coordinators Office, is on the record as being against the law.

But proponents have argued the law gives the state more control over the illegal use of fireworks in the state. Fireworks can be legally purchased in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

The previous law also was not enforced. Since 1956, there have been only 56 convictions in all of New York under the state’s fireworks law.

Washington County residents will have an opportunity to voice their opinion on the law at 10 a.m. on March 20.

It’s expected the county will vote on the local law during the meeting.

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