Assembly Passes Legislation to Strengthen Pyrotechnic Law

May 18, 2004

The State Assembly today unanimously approved legislation (A.6995-E/S.3129-D) that would strengthen penalties for displaying pyrotechnics indoors without proper permits. The legislation was prompted by the February 20, 2003, Rhode Island nightclub fire, which began after pyrotechnics were used by performers. The pyrotechnics were believed to have ignited soundproofing foam, triggering a fire that swept through the nightclub and claimed the lives of more than 95 people.

"The issues that arose out of the Rhode Island tragedy have made it clear that nightclub and other venue owners must be held responsible for events that take place on their premises," Assemblyman Schimminger said. His bill would place the liquor license of an establishment in jeopardy of suspension, cancellation or revocation should the licensee allow or promote an event on its premises where a valid permit was not obtained from the municipality to display pyrotechnics or indoor fireworks.

This bill also states that if a club owner is found guilty of failing to follow the permitting process in existing law, he or she will be unable to deduct for tax purposes the usual business expenses of that event. "As we have seen from past events, the consequences of misusing pyrotechnics can be devastating. That is why it is of the utmost importance for club owners to adhere to the law. It is clear that some unscrupulous club and other venue owners may put their own profit above the safety of their patrons," Schimminger said. "In those instances in no way should a club owner be able to profit from breaking the law."

"This legislation will give added weight to the current pyrotechnic law by putting in place stronger deterrents for club and other venue owners who might be tempted to sacrifice safety for show," Schimminger concluded.