Attention Readers: We're Back
C&G Newspapers is pleased to have resumed publication. For the time being, our papers will publish on a biweekly basis as we work toward our return to weekly papers. In between issues, and anytime, continue to find local news on our website and look for us on Facebook and Twitter.

Cities see increase in fireworks complaints

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published July 6, 2020

FERNDALE/BERKLEY — The Fourth of July holiday is bound to bring many nights of fireworks in cities across Michigan, though residents in Ferndale might have heard enough before the day even arrived.

In recent weeks, the city of Ferndale has seen an increase in the number of noise complaints regarding fireworks. The state of Michigan passed legislation years ago that allowed cities to limit the number of days that residents can light fireworks. Many cities took advantage by only allowing fireworks to be used around holidays, including Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

According to the Ferndale Police Department, during a yearlong period from June 24, 2019, to June 24, 2020, the department received 34 complaints for fireworks. The department had received 20 complaints in the previous year dating back to 2018. However, 10 of the 34 complaints came within the weekend of June 18-21.

“Three of them we were able to locate the source and it was not from our city, so there was nothing we could do about it,” said Ferndale Police Sgt. Baron Brown. “Two of them, we were able to contact the source of the fireworks and asked them to stop, and they were compliant and happy to stop, and then the rest of them we were unable to locate the source.”

Brown followed up by saying, “This is anecdotal — based on the complaints for sure — it seems like there is a lot more.”

Michigan law allows residents to launch fireworks from 11 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. June 29 to July 4, as well as July 5 if that day falls on a Friday or Saturday.

As July 5 was a Sunday this year, Hadfield said police responded to five complaints for fireworks that day. Brown said Ferndale received 11 calls for fireworks complaints.

While there’s no definitive explanation for the increase in fireworks complaints — possibilities include summer weather and people trying to entertain themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic — Brown said he’s seen more people purchasing them lately.

“Is it because of people being locked up in their house and it’s something you can do in your front yard that some people get enjoyment out of? I guess that’s possible, but the issue for us is it’s outside of the allowable dates and nobody who’s lighting them off seems to care that they may have neighbors who suffer from PTSD or have animals that have fireworks negatively affect (them),” he said.

The thought of residents not thinking about their neighbors disappoints Brown.

“I think that that’s really sad because this is really something that’s a perfect example about what everybody is talking about right now, is if we don’t want to have police handling every single complaint for people, then we have to be able to be confident that the community is going to take care of one another in cases exactly like this, and that doesn’t seem to be happening,” he said. “So people are calling us at a much higher rate than normal.”

While Ferndale is dealing with their own fireworks issue, Berkley also has been seeing a number of complaints involving people launching pyrotechnics.

Berkley Public Safety Department Detective Lt. Andrew Hadfield said his department started getting complaints around the Memorial Day weekend, with people launching fireworks both before and after the holiday, and they’ve continued since.

“I know we’re continuing to get some complaints every couple of nights,” he said. “I know, personally, I’ve heard them south of 11 Mile, possibly in Oak Park. I know this past weekend (June 19-21), we had a couple of complaints.”

Hadfield shared that Berkley has had 10 complaints since the beginning of the year, with four coming in the week of June 22-26.

“Since the law changed a couple years ago, (the complaints have) increased every year,” he said.