Amended law still in effect for holiday fireworks

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 26, 2013

 Emily Shaw holds a sparkler and waits for a fireworks show to start last year in Sylvan Lake.

Emily Shaw holds a sparkler and waits for a fireworks show to start last year in Sylvan Lake.

File photo by Donna Agusti

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — West Bloomfield Fire Marshal Patrick Riney is hoping that a law amended last year, which places time restrictions on setting off fireworks, will let Fourth of July revelers have fun, while still giving their neighbors peace of mind.

“We do have noise ordinances with the passing of the new law,” Riney told the Beacon recently. “There is a time to use them and not. It gives us a little more power to enforce prohibition of the fireworks during quiet time.”

Gov. Rick Snyder in 2011 signed into law Michigan Fireworks Safety Act 256, which expanded the allowance of legal fireworks beyond just sparklers, smoke bombs, spinners and helicopters; the reason behind Act 256  — and a similar law, Act 257 — was to let residents purchase consumer-grade fireworks in Michigan, a potential $12 million source of revenue.

Before that, people could not shoot off fireworks other than sparklers.

Now, fireworks can only legally be shot off the day before, the day of and the day after July 4 and eight other holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Washington’s birthday, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.

Noise ordinances regulate loud noises between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. The maximum penalty for using fireworks after 11 p.m. — or on days other than the legally allowable days — is up to a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

Riney said that even with the restriction, he suggests that residents use the utmost precaution with fireworks.

“It’s always recommended that nobody use consumer fireworks,” Riney said. “The safest way to start fireworks is to go and watch a professional display. They are the professionals.”

Legal low-impact fireworks include sparklers and California rockets; novelties include snappers, snakes and party poppers.

“(With the law) they took a lot of our ability to police our own people away … so we can’t restrict the use of fireworks in any way other than the days they can be used,” he said.

West Bloomfield Woods Homeowners Association President Raymond F. Dembek is against people shooting off fireworks at any time because, not only do they disturb the peace, but they cause problems in his subdivision, he said.

“This is not a patriotic-type display; it is just people who like to hear noise,” he said. “In general, the people in our subdivision are responsible and are mindful of their neighbors, but there are a few who come home late and decide to set off fireworks at 1 a.m. or so. It is important to stress that fireworks are permitted only the day of and the day before and after a holiday.”

He said the noise restrictions are a little “vague,” and the fireworks late at night can have “bad” effects on the some of the seniors, young people and pets. 

“We have reports of pets going berserk with fireworks, especially those set off after their owners are asleep,” he said.

West Bloomfield resident Mary Falcone said she thinks the amendment is a good thing, but may not mean much to others.

“I think a lot will depend on how well the new rule is enforced,” she said. “If people start getting ticketed and having to pay fines, I think they will follow the rules. If enforcement continues to be lackadaisical, I don’t think it will make much difference.”

To learn more about the West Bloomfield Fire Department, call (248) 409-1505. To contact the West Bloomfield Police Department, call (248) 975-9200.

The 2013 Sylvan Lake and Oakland County Boat Club fireworks show will be held around 10 p.m. July 3, near the area of Sylvan Lake and Otter Lake.

For more information, go to http://oaklandcountyboatclub.roundtablelive.org/ or call (248) 682-9870.

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