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June 28, 2013

Fouts: ‘Pyromaniacs’ violating fireworks laws face arrest

By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

WARREN — Those planning on blowing off bottle rockets, cherry bombs, Roman candles or other exploding instruments of revelry now permitted under Michigan law could face arrest in Warren if they cause property damage or injury to others.

Mayor Jim Fouts, a vocal opponent of the state’s regulations governing fireworks that were relaxed last year but tweaked in mid-June, said police would enforce Warren’s local ordinances during the Fourth of July holiday celebrations.

“That’s been my pet peeve for some time,” Fouts said June 27. “I’ve opposed the state fireworks law. I thought it was too long, too loud and really not only long and loud, but pretty dangerous. I’ve gotten a number of complaints from people already.”

The newly tweaked state law allows local units of government with populations of more than 50,000 the discretion to prohibit the use of consumer fireworks between midnight and 8 a.m. on the day before, the day of and the day after national holidays.

Because the law was altered so close to the Fourth of July this year, members of the Warren City Council voted unanimously June 25 to approve the city’s own emergency ordinance, which includes similar time restrictions.

Fouts said the loud and explosive fireworks permitted under state law are banned in Warren between midnight and 8 a.m. on all days, with the exception of July 4, when they’re prohibited between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. Such fireworks are prohibited in Warren at anytime on days other than the day before, the day of and the day after national holidays and New Year’s Day.

Fouts said he’d accompany Warren police on “fireworks patrol” around the holiday July 4.

Fireworks are also prohibited on school or public property, and on the property of private citizens without permission. Minors and those under the influence of alcohol and drugs are also banned from possessing or using fireworks.

Fouts cited recent incidents of property damage — including a fire in Oakland County he said caused massive damage to a roof — among his concerns with the new fireworks law, and he threatened that such incidents could result in heavy fines and arrests in Warren.

“We’re not going to be so much gentle and nice, because the results are pretty horrific,” Fouts said. “We want to make sure that we follow the state law, and these three days don’t become, people told me last year, it was like being in downtown Beirut.

“It gives pyromaniacs a reason to go out and shoot fireworks and terrorize the neighborhood,” Fouts said.

To keep a handle on Independence Day celebrations, police will close Warren’s Halmich Park an hour early, at 9 p.m., July 3-5.

Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green said all city parks and schoolyards would see increased patrols and that officers would take a zero-tolerance approach to any violations of state law or local ordinances.

“What it boils down to is public safety,” Green said. “That’s our task: To make sure they’re safe, no matter what they’re doing.”

Green said violators could expect to receive a ticket, at least, instead of a warning this year. That includes anyone unlawfully engaging in the dangerous combination of alcohol and fireworks.

“It multiplies the potential for there to be a problem,” Green said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brian Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1089.