St. Clair Shores police urge courtesy when planning fireworks displays

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 30, 2021

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — As residents prepare to celebrate the birthday of the nation, local police want them to know just what is and isn’t permitted under St. Clair Shores and Michigan law with regard to fireworks.

The city and state regulate the use of consumer-grade fireworks, but interim Deputy Police Chief Paul Plaza said the state law supersedes the local ordinance. While city ordinance allows for the use of consumer-grade fireworks the day before, the day of and the day after a prescribed national holiday, Michigan state law amended in 2019 allows for fireworks to be set off until 11:45 p.m. from June 29 to July 4. Because St. Clair Shores ordinance calls for the allowance of the use of fireworks on the day after the holiday, residents are permitted to use fireworks July 5, as well.

“That’s state law and it says even if municipalities have ordinances, they have to allow that,” Plaza explained. “It’s their right to, as far as state law goes.”

However, St. Clair Shores’ ordinance also states that fireworks cannot be ignited within 200 feet of a residence or a car, by a minor or within 20 feet of an open flame. It is also illegal to light them anywhere on public property, including streets, sidewalks, at schools or on city property.

“If it’s someone who has a private business or private party, a third party has to have permission from the property owner,” he said.

Plaza said that, as time has passed, residents have become more accustomed to the laws and what is and isn’t allowed.

“It’s definitely improved,” Plaza said. When he was on road patrol, “your time would be consumed by going from fireworks complaint to fireworks complaint, nonstop.”

Regardless, along with normal patrols — which can also issue citations for the illegal use of fireworks — the St. Clair Shores Police Department will have an additional car assigned specifically to respond to fireworks complaints for the July Fourth holiday.

He said consumer-grade fireworks are any firework that explodes up in the air. Novelty or low-impact fireworks, including sparklers and fountains, can be used by minors, provided they are supervised by a parent or guardian.

“They can still injure you, but (there is) not as great of a risk,” he said.

The St. Clair Shores Police Department receives many complaints of fireworks this time of year, Plaza said.

“There are random complaints (that) people let off fireworks they’re not supposed to, so we get calls like that,” he said. “The big displays don’t usually come until the day before, the day of and the day after. Any time we get complaints of fireworks, we’re going to handle them.”

Illegal ignition of fireworks is punishable by a civil infraction up to $500 plus the costs of prosecution and court fees.

City officials ask residents to be courteous of others around them, however, regardless of the legality of their display.

“We put the strictest ordinance in place that we could,” Councilman John Caron said June 21. “Our police, they do their best in trying to enforce it. It’s hard to enforce.

“If you’re going to use them, please be considerate. Keep them to short shows.”

Plaza agreed.

“Just because you’re allowed to light them certain hours, be a courteous neighbor and remember people have to sleep,” he said.

Some residents have sensory sensitivities, post-traumatic stress disorders or scared dogs.

“It’s not just your neighbors next door. These things are loud. They go for blocks,” Caron said. “Our police do the best they can to enforce a law that’s extremely hard to enforce.”

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