By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
A few years ago, Michigan lifted the ban on consumer fireworks. All fine and dandy (as long as you’re safe and follow the rules), but it certainly is not a free-for-all when it comes to lighting them up — the state legislature allows local municipalities to put in place ordinances on when such fireworks can be used.
Consumer fireworks are devices designed to produce visible effects by combustion such as firecrackers sky lanterns, bottle rockets, roman candles and certain aerial shells not exceeding 1.75 inches in diameter.
Low-impact and novelty fireworks that are ground-based or handled devices such as wheel fountains, smoke devices, ground spinners, and sparklers, are permitted.
But you’ll want to check with your local municipality before you shoot off a bottle rocket or light that roman candle. In both the cities of Kentwood and Wyoming, consumer firework usage is restricted to the day before, the day of and the day after a national holiday.
Even on permitted days, there are restrictions. In the city of Kentwood, fireworks are prohibited during the hours of 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. In Wyoming, fireworks are prohibited between the hours of 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. on the day before and the day after the holiday. On the day of the holiday, fireworks are prohibited from midnight to 8 a.m.
Also in Wyoming, the ordinance prohibits a person from discharging or displaying fireworks on another person’s property or within 15 feet of another person’s property without the property owner’s permission. You must get a permit to discharge fireworks in a public street or right-of-way, a public park, school property or any other place of public assembly.
“We do get a number of complaints during times when people are allowed to set off fireworks and if they are doing it during the allowed time legally, there is not much we can do,” said Capt. Kim Koster with the Wyoming Public Safety Department. Many residents do call the department with concerns over the noise from fireworks upsetting their pets and small children.
“If it is endangering public safety or personal property, we are going to investigate to make sure that it is being done safely,” Koster said.
According to the National Council on Fireworks Safety, consumer fireworks usage is expected to hit an all-time high this Fourth of July and safety remains a top priority. One of the biggest concerns the council has reported on is an increase in injuries among youth “who have used fireworks in videos unsafely to impress friends or get a laugh.” It is unlawful for anyone under 18 to discharge or display consumer fireworks in the State of Michigan.
Another factor is alcohol, said Ellen Bristol, director of internal communications and public relations at Metro Health. “There is a saying that nothing bad ever happens when it starts with a salad,” Bristol said, adding that many of the firework injuries Metro Health has taken care of over the years have had alcohol involved as well. To help with promoting fireworks safety, Metro Health recently put out a blog post on fireworks safety tips.
The bottomline, Koster said, is to think about where you are, what you are doing and just be “considerate of your neighbors.”