New Bedford Council President: ‘Dangerous’ Fireworks Intolerable
New Bedford City Council President Ian Abreu has had enough of people whose careless use of fireworks threatens life and property.
Abreu said illegal fireworks ignited several fires on Monday night, one of which destroyed some 40 feet of protected seagrass on West Rodney French Boulevard at West Beach. He said fireworks sparked another fire at Victory Park, where the Poor Farm once stood.
Abreu said the use of illegal fireworks around the Fourth of July is "getting a little out of control" and people need to use "discretion" and "decorum" and not light fireworks near "homes, forestry, and shrubbery." He said the behavior is "very dangerous."
"I'm not going to tolerate it," he said.
Abreu said he doesn't want to "slam on anybody for wanting to enjoy life," but those who choose to light fireworks need to be considerate of public safety and other residents. He said he and other councilors receive phone calls from constituents at all hours complaining about the illegal fireworks.
Abreu, who lives on the peninsula in the city's South End, said this year has been "the worst I've ever experienced in my life." He said 2020, the first year of the pandemic, was bad but last year, not so much.
"We teetered back to 2020" on Monday night, he said, noting that most of the complaints he received were from residents in the South and West Ends.
Abreu acknowledged that fireworks are illegal but also understands people are still going to set them off.
"I'm all for adults making adult decisions, but when you put the greater public safety at risk, I have a problem," he said.
He said that "veterans, the spouses of veterans, others who suffer PTSD, dogs, pets, and children" are impacted by the loud fireworks, particularly late at night.
"It's a quality of life issue," he said.
"If we catch you, you'll be faced with very, very steep fines, and if your actions wind up setting off a fire, you will be arrested," he said.