Second Pelham Fireworks Accident Reignites Hopes For Reloadable Mortar Ban

Jul 7, 2014

Fire Investigator Chris Wyman holds the damaged mortar tube resulting from a shell placed intentionally upside down for a safety demonstration two years ago.
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  The Pelham Fire Chief is renewing his call for a ban on a type of controversial fireworks called reloadable mortars. That follows a second accident in his town over the holiday weekend.

Pelham Fire Chief James Midgley remembers seeing what he describes as a mushroom cloud coming from behind a residence where thirteen people were injured two years ago. Then, on July 4th this year, just around the corner, another fireworks accident injured two people. And the common thread, says Midgley, is reloadable mortars.

“This is two incidents in my little town alone. I’ve got fifteen people who’ve been injured by these devices. I think statistically, we now have the information to say these are probably a bad device and a dangerous device.”

Last weekend’s accident happened when a mortar shell was placed into a tube upside-down. One man severely injured his hand and another suffered minor burns on his legs.

Midgley says he considers reloadable shells to be like small hand grenades and he’d like to see legislation reintroduced that would ban reloadable mortars. Similar bills failed in the last legislative session.