Fire Department: Safest fireworks are launched professionally

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 29, 2015

 Consumers can only launch fireworks from their property or with permission on someone else’s private property. Fireworks may not be discharged from public property.

Consumers can only launch fireworks from their property or with permission on someone else’s private property. Fireworks may not be discharged from public property.

File photo by Donna Agusti

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — The Fire Department’s message on fireworks has been the same since 2011: The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a professional show.

Fire Marshal Pat Riney said professional fireworks displays are regulated and monitored, and the Fire Department is on-site for every show. In addition, he said, a safety zone is established for the use of professional fireworks, but residents may not be establishing a safety zone when using consumer products.


Prior to the Michigan Legislature passing new fireworks laws in 2011 — which permit the sale, purchase, possession and use of consumer pyrotechnics — West Bloomfield Police Lt. Mark Stout said, the police and fire departments were so busy with runs on the Fourth of July that officers “almost really couldn’t keep up.”


Since the law changed, the calls have been reduced. However, Riney said, the number of personal shows using professional pyrotechnics has increased in the greater West Bloomfield area.


“Most people don’t know what the professional show sounds and looks like,” Riney said, adding that such displays are very loud and draw the attention of fire officials, and the Fire Department has confiscated commercial-grade pyrotechnics from personal shows.


To hold a professional show, in addition to other requirements, a permit is required from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as from the township. So far this year, the Fire Department has responded to one professional show that was held in the Westacres neighborhood, and the residents had not obtained a permit, Riney said.


The following are the 2015 professional fireworks shows in the greater West Bloomfield area:


• Pine Lake Country Club will host a show July 2, or July 3 if it rains.


• Union Lake and Sylvan Lake will host shows July 3. In the event of rain, the Union Lake show will take place July 11 and the Sylvan Lake show will take place July 25.


• The Green Lake Association and the Shady Beach Improvement Association will host shows July 9, or July 12 if it rains. 


• Temple Shir Shalom will host a show Aug. 17, or Aug. 18 if it rains.


The state permits local municipalities to restrict the times that people can launch fireworks. Fireworks are permitted from 8 a.m.-midnight on the day before, the day of and the day after designated national holidays — except for New Year’s Day, when fireworks are permitted from 8 a.m.-1 a.m.


Consumers can only launch fireworks from their property or with permission on someone else’s private property. Riney said that the state attorney general ruled that if debris falls on another person’s property, it is considered use. Fireworks may not be discharged from public property, such as in the street, or on school or church property. Consuming alcohol or drugs while discharging fireworks is prohibited.


Riney said residents discharging consumer fireworks should never aim a firework at anyone. If the firework doesn’t discharge, people should not approach or look down the mortar. Instead, Riney said, people should wait 20 minutes, and if the firework still hasn’t discharged, soak it in water and dispose of it.


Legal consumer fireworks — including comets, mines, firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles and wheel-type devices — don’t require permits. Low-impact fireworks — like sparklers, flitter sparklers, and cone and cylinder fountains — do not require permits. Novelty fireworks — including flat paper caps, toy noisemakers, toy snakes and toy smoke devices — don’t require permits either.


Fireworks and explosives that are illegal in Michigan include, but are not limited to, cherry bombs, M-80s, silver salutes, M-250s and M-1000s.


Last year, the township prohibited the use of “sky lanterns,” or unmanned hotair balloons. This year, the township has banned all sales of the lanterns. Riney said the sky lanterns are “floating fireballs” that can get stuck in trees or land on a house. Even the Federal Aviation Administration has a ruling against the use of the sky lanterns.


“There’s just no control over them,” Riney said.


People who have questions or who need assistance with fireworks can call the West Bloomfield Fire Department’s fire prevention division at (248) 409-1505.

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