Published at PO Box 96 124 W. St. Clair Romeo, MI 48065. Phone: (586)752-3524 Fax: (586)752-0548
Updated Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 3 PM EST
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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 07/04/12
Residents get to celebrate
with bigger bang this year
by CHRIS GRAYRay Williams of Armada likes to celebrate Independence Day with big ka-booms, and new Michigan laws now allow him and others around the state to do it legally.
Observer Staff Writer
The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2012, has permitted the sales and enjoyment of fireworks that were formerly considered illegal in Michigan.
"It's a whole lot more convenient," Williams said. "With the gas prices the way they are, a trip to Ohio would definitely increase the costs of the fireworks."
Williams has thrown a Fourth of July celebration for the past 26 years. Although he has cut back on how much he spends on fireworks the past two years, he is supportive of the new law.
"I think it's a good thing," Williams said. "It's already provided new business and new jobs in Michigan for all these stores opening up, and it'll be a good source of tax income for the state."
Popular consumer fireworks that are now allowed for sale and use under state law include bottle rockets, aerials, reloadable shell devices, firecrackers, missile-type rockets and roman candles.
Display fireworks, which are large, explosive items normally reserved for celebrations, are locally permitted for professional use and are not regulated by the law.
Low-impact fireworks that continue to be legal include ground based or handheld sparklers, sparkling wheels (fireworks attached to a spinning device) and smoke devices. These must not have more than 500 grams of explosive mixture.
Novelty fireworks like snappers, smoke balls and snakes are not regulated, but remain legal.
This newfound freedom comes with a price. On top of a 6 percent sales tax, an additional 6 percent Fireworks Safety Fee must also be collected by sellers to go to the state's coffers.
The state also charges a $1,000 application fee for selling fireworks in a permanent structure, or $600 for selling in temporary housing like a tent.
The law also prohibits the sale of fireworks to anyone under the age of 18.
When and where fireworks can be fired are regulated as well. State law says fireworks can light the sky the day before, during and after 10 federal holidays. They cannot be fired on public, private or school property without permission from the owner.
Not all are fans of the new law. Romeo Police Chief Greg Paduch said since the law went into effect, his department has dealt with a handful of complaints from residents complaining about noisy fireworks at night.
"People have to remember (our) local ordinance has a noise ordinance," he said. "If we do get complaints of blowing off fireworks after dark, we can still act on those complaints."
Outside of the holidays, the law permits communities to regulate fireworks using local ordinances. Paduch said he expects the village to address fireworks with some type of action in the near future.
The City of Warren passed an ordinance on June 26 that limits when and where fireworks can be set off, saying they cannot be used within 30 feet of residential buildings or open flames.
Brian Tyrell, fire marshal for the Washington Township Fire Department, said the department hasn't received a lot of complaints, but it has fielded a lot of phone calls about usage.
"Since it is legal, people are more comfortable calling the fire marshal with questions," he said. "I can't tell you the last time I had anyone ask about fireworks because it wasn't legal this time last year."
He said the township is looking into a fireworks ordinance, but is waiting to see what other communities do first before bringing it to the table.
Since the township has no ordinance on the books, Tyrell cautions people to use common sense when lighting fireworks.
"Make sure there is good separation between the area you're shooting them off and any dwellings, and be courteous to your neighbors," he said.
In Bruce Township, Fire Chief Floyd Shotwell said there have been calls from residents worried about fires caused by fireworks.
He said the dry conditions have led to more concerns about such fires occurring, but like Tyrell, could only offer caution in using fireworks since no local ordinances exist yet.
"They have done this in other states and they don't seem to have a problem," he said. "We'll just have to wait and see."