New Brunswick

Residents urge N.B. town to ban private fireworks

Bruce Carter had just come home from the hospital and was recovering in bed when the fireworks erupted. Carter, a war veteran with congestive heart failure, was terrified. "He thought he was being shot at," his daughter said.

Quispamsis councillors hear of trauma, injuries and property damage caused by increasingly popular fireworks

Leslie Rice with her father, Bruce Carter. Rice says unexpected neighbourhood fireworks displays have triggered traumatizing flashbacks in Carter, a Second World War veteran. (Submitted by Leslie Rice)

Ninety-six-year-old Bruce Carter had just come home from the hospital last month and was recovering in bed when the fireworks erupted.

Carter, a Second World War veteran who suffers from congestive heart failure, was terrified.

He thought he was under attack, his daughter, Leslie Rice said.

"He said 'Can you make it stop? Who's shooting guns?' "

It wasn't the first time Rice had seen him traumatized by private fireworks displays, which she said are a regular and random occurrence in her Quispamsis neighbourhood.

But it was the last time she was going to put up with it without saying something.

Rice started a petition asking the Town of Quispamsis to ban private consumer fireworks displays, and garnered almost 300 signatures. She has also forwarded the petition to the Town of Rothesay.

At Tuesday night's council meeting, Quispamsis councillors had some fireworks stories of their own to share.

Quispamsis Coun. Kerrie Luck says she has heard from many residents, both for and against the use of personal fireworks. 'It's a very hot topic,' Luck says. (Town of Quispamsis/YouTube)

Stories of damage to homes, injured animals

"This is a very hot topic" in the community, said Coun. Kerrie Luck, who put the issue on council's agenda after a resident's Christmas Eve fireworks damaged their neighbour's home. 

"Since then I have heard from many Quispamsis residents both for and against fireworks … I've heard of veterans with PTSD thinking that they're being shot at, children with autism that are responding in terror, dogs that have gone missing."

Luck also referred to a recent incident in Nova Scotia that has also sparked a petition calling for a ban on private fireworks. In that incident, a horse was injured after being spooked by fireworks, and had to be destroyed.

The popularity of private fireworks displays — and the complaints about them — seem to have grown in the past few years, Coun. Kirk Miller said.

Miller said he's noticed that fireworks are being set off more and more frequently in his neighbourhood and suggested the cancellation of public displays because of the pandemic might be a factor. 

Coun. Kirk Miller said the use of personal fireworks has increased dramatically in recent years and needs to be modified. (Town of Quispamsis/YouTube)
I don't care what's going on, [on] Monday on a worknight, they shouldn't be going off at 11 o'clock at night.- Quispamsis Coun. Kirk Miller

However, he said, the private fireworks aren't only being set off on public holidays.

"I can hear them all around me, sometimes any day," Miller said.

"I don't care what's going on, [on] Monday on a work night, they shouldn't be going off at 11 o'clock at night. It's getting a bit out of control."

While there was no support for a complete ban on private fireworks Tuesday night, councillors agreed something needs to be done, including raising public awareness of safety and noise concerns and revisiting existing bylaws.

The current noise bylaw allows for detonation of fireworks on any day of the week until 11 p.m., and does not require residents to have a permit or to provide notification of when the fireworks will be set off.

"We need to modify this somehow," Miller said.

Coun. Emil Olsen agreed but said, "I don't think we need to reinvent the wheel here."

He proposed a motion that staff look into how other Canadian municipalities are handling the issue and bring the findings back to council to be reviewed.

Rice thinks fireworks displays should be left to the town to operate, and private fireworks should be banned. (Shutterstock / milezaway)

Support for public awareness campaign 

For Rice, that's a beginning.

"I feel that maybe there should be permits, and maybe there should be fines, and then people might understand that you can't just set these fireworks off at any given time."

She and the hundreds who signed her petition would prefer to see private fireworks banned and have fireworks operated only by the town.

But for now, she said, the focus on public awareness will be a big help, and will hopefully make people realize the debilitating effect unexpected fireworks can have on some of their neighbours.

"People don't realize what it does to other people, for days on end," she said.

"I just would like to see something done to protect our environment, protect our children, protect our animals, and our veterans. That's my goal." 


Marie Sutherland is a web writer with CBC News based in Saint John. You can reach her at

marie sutherland


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