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Punishment Levied for Unexploded Firework Shells

Newton native Tony Gentile received a six month suspended license from the Massachusetts Fire Marshal.

After and several other communities, has reached an agreement with the Massachusetts Fire Marshal on his punishment.

Gentile, who does the fireworks display in a number of communities , will have his fireworks license suspended for six months followed by a six-month probationary period after reaching a settlement prior to his scheduled July 31 administrative hearing.

In addition, Pyrotecnico, the company that distributed the fireworks to Gentile, is slated for a hearing next week.

"This was a manufacturing issue, not a vendor issue," said Newton Deputy Fire Chief Paul Chagnon. "[Gentile's team] didn't have any idea there were problems until after they developed."

The annual July 4 fireworks display in Newton is set off at Albemarle Field.

According to Chagnon, the Newton Fire Department did several searches of the grounds after the city's July 4 fireworks display to check for shells. One search was done immediately following the fireworks show on July 4 and a second was done the next morning. 

After receiving notification from the Massachusetts Fire Marshal about possible unexploded shells, the Newton Fire Department did a third, "very thorough grid search" of the area where the fireworks were set off. 

No unexploded shells were found in Newton, Chagnon said.

"[Gentile's team] was more than cooperative [with the search]," Chagnon said. "They were 100 percent on board with making sure everything was done properly." 

Chagnon underlined that Gentile has a "very good" reputation and in all the years he has done the fireworks display in Newton, there has never been a problem.

Wilmington Town Manager Michael Caira had similar comments about Gentile and his displays. However, Caira supported the Fire Marshal's decision.

“I can only say that the town’s experience with Mr. Gentile over the years has been positive,” said Town Manager Michael Caira. “That said, obviously something went terribly wrong in a number of communities. I certainly support whatever decision the Fire Marshal makes because it’s made on behalf of the public.”

In Wilmington, Gentile arranges two separate fireworks displays for the town. 

Wilmington Fire Lt. Dan Hurley is responsible for monitoring the town's set up and firing off of the pyrotechnics each year, and he was the one who discovered the unexploded shells after Gentile and his crew had packed up and left town.

According to Hurley, he was walking around the football field when he stepped on something about the size of the tennis ball. Hurley said he couldn’t see what he had stepped on until he looked closely.

“He should have found them according to the code, and that’s what he was punished for,” said Hurley. “This happened a lot of shows that were put on by Pyrotecnico because they had some shells that didn’t ignite. I believe it was an isolated incident because the product was defective, though it didn’t made it any better that he didn’t find the shells.”

Caira said the town, and others in the area, were fortunate, and should learn from the incident in the future.

“What happened was disconcerting,” said Caira. “But there was nothing that ended up causing a problem for the town. But certainly it would give one pause in terms of how we go about shooting fireworks in the future, where they should be shot from, and who it is that should be operating them. It’s a good lesson for all communities. We’ve looked at it, had meetings about it, and we’ll take steps to tighten control."

schlock August 03, 2012 at 09:52 AM
'He should have found them according to the code' - isn't the searching for and subsequent discovery of unexploded shells a responsibility of the municipality's public safety department??
teresa August 04, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Mr. Gentile should not have his license revoked because it was not his fault. The firework did not fire off nevertheless going off in a direction that was hard to find. With thousands of fireworks going off they checked everything plus the fields and what I read the fire department also checked the fields. Mr. Gentile has been doing the fire works for years so to penalize him was not justified so why don't you revoke the fire department and the facility who sold the fireworks?

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