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New fireworks law causing confusion

With the July 4th holiday approaching, residents should be prepared for neighbors to be celebrating with more of a bang than usual.

It used to be that most any firework that made a loud noise or shot into the air was illegal in Michigan. That all changed on January 1, when the new Michigan Fireworks Safety Act went into effect. The Act allows the sale and use of consumer fireworks such as Roman Candles, Bottle Rockets and other items that leave the ground.

Those fireworks are legal to use any day of the year, unless a city or township ordinance prohibits it. To make it even more confusing, however, is that there are 10 holidays out of the year where local ordinances cannot prohibit their use for three days—the day before a holiday, the day of, or the day after. That means fireworks could be shot off at 3 a.m. July 3, 4, or 5, and police cannot stop it unless the users are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or under 18. They also cannot be used on public, school or private property of another person without permission.

While some local governments have addressed the ordinance, the city of Cedar Springs has not yet done that. For example, Rockford enacted an ordinance that does not allow fireworks between 11 p.m. and 11 a.m., excluding those 10 holiday time frames. The cities of Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Wyoming have banned them completely except for those holiday times. A fire in Grand Rapids causing $32,000 in damage was blamed on bottle rockets that set the dry ground on fire.

According to Cedar Springs City Police Chief Roger Parent, many law enforcement agencies are getting so many calls about fireworks they have trouble getting to them all. However, he said that here in Cedar Springs, if they get complaints, he has an officer check them out to make sure they are using the correct fireworks and not professional grade, and that the residents are not intoxicated. Parent said the fireworks should be labeled as consumer fireworks, or Division 1.4, which were the old Class C fireworks. “They can be pretty big and can go higher than the tree line,” said Parent.

He added that if he receives a lot of complaints about fireworks on days of the year other than holidays, and the city has not addressed the ordinance, he would then ask the city attorney to clarify whether they fall under the noise ordinance.

 

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