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Posted: 07/30/14

Bruce Township updates
fireworks ordinance

Fire prevention updates also include lock box ordinance

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      With references to a Public Act in 1945, Bruce-Romeo Fire Chief Ken Staelgraeve decided it was time to update Bruce Township's fireworks ordinance.
       The Bruce Township Board of Trustees voted 4-0 to repealing its old fireworks ordinance and replacing it with a new one to regulate fireworks displays. Trustee Paul Okoniewski was not present at the July 17 meeting.
       The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act became effective Jan. 1, 2012, causing the sale, use and possession of consumer fireworks to be legal. Municipalities can't enact or enforce anything regulating the sale, display, storage, transportation or distribution of fireworks.
       They are, however, responsible for granting permits for display fireworks -- large fireworks typically seen in shows -- as well as ordinances regulating the ignition, discharge and use of fireworks.
       "As we just came through the Fourth of July season, (there were) many complaints in many communities about the time the fireworks were going off," he said. "That is within our purview to regulate."
       Of bigger concern to him, though, was the safety of fireworks displays, and the township's ordinance enacted in 1985 doesn't grant it any influence over the safety of displays. Staelgraeve said the township's fireworks ordinance makes references to Public Act 246 of 1945.
       "We need to move forward and enact a fireworks ordinance," he said.
       Staelgraeve patterned the ordinance after the fireworks ordinance in Washington Township. The new ordinance would allow the department to speak with people about safety precautions for displays.
       Fireworks shall not be discharged between 11 p.m. and 10 a.m. excluding the days before, during and after a national holiday.
       For permits, applicants must be 18 years or older and submit an application 30 days prior to the display date. Violations of the ordinance would result in a fine of $500 and/or 90 days in jail.
       The board repealed the 1985 ordinance and replaced it with the new ordinance. A public hearing is not required since it is a regulatory ordinance.
      
Fire prevention

       The board voted on a number of other fire prevention issues, including a lock box program to allow rapid entry into buildings.
       A 4-0 vote approved of a rapid access entry ordinance, which will give the department easier access to buildings that use a Knox-Box Rapid Entry System.
       The system works by having developments mount a secure box near their building's entrance that the fire department can access with a master key. The box can contain entry keys, access cards and other materials to assist with rapid entry and response.
       "Many times we get there and it's the middle of the night and the doors are locked and we have no way to get in," Staelgraeve said. "We can stand around and wait until the owner gets there, hoping there is no fire, or we can get into the building."
       He highlighted the need for the ordinance by referencing a fire that took place in the second floor of the Romeo Party Store at 33 Mile Road in June. The department was forced to break into the building, damaging the door in the process.
       With the ordinance approved, new businesses or developments with fire alarm systems are required to have a Knox-Box. Current businesses can seek out the boxes as well.
       "One company and one company only does this, and it's strictly monitored and strictly maintained in terms of security," he said.
       The board also voted 4-0 to update the township's fire prevention ordinance to include the 2009 International Fire Code. Prior to the update, the ordinance referenced the 2000 edition of the code. Staelgraeve said the code incorporates new fire technology.
       Along with the update, the board gave a thumbs-up to amending the township's fire prevention fee schedule. The fees are collected as a reimbursement for when the department reviews fire protection equipment plans for accuracy and code compliance.


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