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May 28, 2014

Roseville hopes to be prepared for fireworks season

By Kevin Bunch
C & G Staff Writer

ROSEVILLE — Though changes to state laws over the past few years make using fireworks in Michigan more permissive than many communities were used to, Roseville is trying to get a handle on fireworks as best it can with what it has left.

Roseville Police Chief James Berlin said that when the state had amended the laws initially a few years ago, cities no longer could restrict the sales of fireworks, and fireworks sellers popped up all over the state.

“No one could. They were pretty much allowed to put these tents up wherever they wanted, and it was controlled by the state and the state fire marshal,” Berlin said. “Now they changed the law to where we’re able to regulate the sales with our open-air sale ordinances.”

Berlin said the city passed ordinances last year to make those kinds of restrictions, though the change in state law was too late to make a difference last summer. So far this year, he said, the city has not seen many applications from open-air fireworks sellers.

The dealers that are in the city — including a brick-and-mortar fireworks store — are following the state and city laws regarding legal fireworks and to whom they can be sold, Berlin added, noting that it is in their interests to make sure everything is done legally.

City Manager Scott Adkins said that under the state law, people are allowed to set off fireworks only on the days immediately before and after a national holiday, as well as the holiday itself. All other days of the year, it is illegal to set off fireworks.

Under the city’s noise, disturbing the peace and nuisance ordinances, Adkins said there still are some restrictions on those days when people are allowed to set off fireworks.

People using fireworks on the permitted days must do so consistently with the manufacturer’s directions, not violate the sound or nuisance ordinances, and not create litter.

“So if you shoot these off and leave the empty burned-out containers out there, that’s littering,” Adkins said.

The city also requires that all fireworks be fired off 20 feet or more from a public roadway, right- of-way or motor vehicle, 25 feet from a structure, or 500 feet from a gas station. Adkins said they also must be fired from ground level, and only when winds do not exceed 10 miles an hour. The hours they can be fired are within 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Berlin said the Police Department would be putting forth extra patrols specifically on fireworks duty on nice days, and those patrols would be ready to write tickets and confiscate fireworks if people violate the state and local laws.

Adkins said that while the city has stringent enforcement policies, it is not always easy to catch people in the act; hence, the additional officers on patrol.

Berlin said that while he would prefer if people would just go to officially sanctioned fireworks displays, if residents plan on setting off their own anyway, they should do so safely.

“It’s very easy to be seriously hurt with these things,” he said. “If they’re going to buy these and light them off, they have to use common sense. Light them off in a large open area, have a fire extinguisher present, make sure there is adult supervision, and don’t be drinking and lighting these off because that’s when a lot of these accidents seem to happen.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kevin Bunch at kbunch@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.