Fireworks lit up sky, switchboard in Scott as summer ended with bang

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When the skies above Scott's 4th Ward lit up with booming fireworks about 8 p.m. the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, so did the phone lines at Allegheny County's 911 call center.

Numerous complaints were made because of the noise, which disturbed nearby Scott residents and was also heard in Heidelberg, Carnegie, Collier and Mt. Lebanon.

Besides the noise, some residents were alarmed by the large size of the boomers.

"You could tell by the sound and size of them that they were very, very near," reported one complainant after the Aug. 31 fireworks show.

"They sounded like professional ones. It was just so loud," said another.

But there were some who decided to pull up chairs and enjoy the light show.

The fireworks were coming from the backyard of Jerry and Denise Fitzgerald's Borland Road home, where the family was hosting a Labor Day celebration. About 20 people were at the party, Mrs. Fitzgerald said.

But Mrs. Fitzgerald, who is Scott's manager, said the fireworks were not commercial or industrial.

"They were legal fireworks we purchased here in Pittsburgh. The minute we got told about the complaints [from the police], we stopped," she said, adding that she and her husband decided to set off the explosives as soon as it got dark because "We didn't want to do it too late."

Police Chief James Secreet said three officers responded to the 911 call, but "Our guys found no fireworks."

He added that 911 dispatch told police "multiple complaints" about the noise were received.

Pennsylvania fireworks laws are no snap to understand. Basically, the only permitted fireworks for public use without a license are novelty items like sparklers. To explode or display aerial fireworks, state law requires that permits be obtained in advance from the municipalities and that the blast sites be inspected by the police chief. Also, a bond of at least $500 bond is required to cover damages.

It is not known if the Fitzgeralds obtained a permit and posted a bond. They have not been cited.

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Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer:


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