The Londonderry Fish and Game Club hosted the New Hampshire Pyrotechnics Association’s (NHPA) annual meeting Saturday night, and the fireworks weren’t just in the sky. According to Rick Olson, club president, the NHPA uses its annual event to showcase products that the association members may want to purchase. The association is comprised of professional pyrotechnics technicians who put on professional fireworks displays for towns during such events as Independence Day celebrations and Old Home Day (see related letter).
“We sent out a limited number of post cards to our abutters, letting them know that the event was taking place, but we didn’t advertise because we didn’t want a thousand people showing up. People tend to like fireworks and we just don’t have the security for a whole lot of people,” Olson said.
But some residents of the area were upset at the unexpected noise.
Olson said some of the complaints received were personal in nature. “We had one lady who complained and I guess didn’t know we have Vonage telephone service at the club that gives the name and address of the callers,” Olson said. He said the woman used derogatory language and also made a derogatory statement on the club’s Facebook page.
Olson said the club rarely has nighttime events. “You know, our club has been here since 1972 and the people that are complaining have moved in here in the late ‘80s and ‘90s,” Olson added. “Their complaint shouldn’t be with us, their complaint is with their builder or whoever sold them their house. I’ve been a member here since I was 13 except for a stint while I was serving in the Marine Corps. We follow all the rules and we have 26 of our members as certified gun safety instructors.”
Olson maintains the property at the Fish and Game Club is ideal for meetings of this kind because it is far enough away from structures so as not to be a hazard.
Acting Londonderry Fire Chief Darren O’Brien said he and the fire marshal were notified of the event and the area was inspected and deemed appropriate. He said he had fire personnel at the club during the event, as is done with all fireworks displays. “These weren’t guys just shooting off fireworks, these were professionals in the business of pyrotechnic displays that towns hire for their shows, and they were demonstrating products,” O’Brien said.
But O’Brien said that in the days following the event, the fire department received hundreds of complaints about the noise. “Although there was nothing done that was wrong – they did what they said they would be doing and everything was OK – I think that we would reconsider the event taking place in the future in Londonderry, as this venue seems to not be conducive to noise,” O’Brien said.
Londonderry Police Captain Gerard Dussault said the police department received 200 to 300 calls complaining about the fireworks.
“We didn’t count every call but Sergeant Adam Dyer said there were ‘a ton of calls,’ and we estimate it to be between 200 and 300 calls,” Dussault said. “Litchfield received 50 to 55 calls, Derry (received) one, and Manchester two. I’m told the show lasted from about 6:30 p.m. to about 9:30 p.m.”
Olson said the event lasted from 8:15 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., but other fireworks were set off from 3 p.m. to about 7 p.m.