Stay safe during Fourth of July festivities

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published June 26, 2018

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TROY — The Troy Police Department only received two calls for service due to fireworks over Memorial Day weekend, and officials want to make sure residents stay just as safe for the Fourth of July. 

The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act of 2011, which eased restrictions on the types of fireworks that consumers may detonate, took effect Jan. 1, 2012. The law allows consumers to ignite fireworks that explode in the air or on the ground that had previously been banned, such as bottle rockets, Roman candles and aerial spinners. 

Under the act, municipalities may not enact ordinances, codes or regulations pertaining to the sale, display, storage or distribution of fireworks regulated in the act, but they may enact ordinances to regulate the ignition, discharge and use of fireworks by consumers. Minors may not purchase fireworks, but they are not restricted from igniting them. 

Intoxicated people are restricted from lighting fireworks by state law and city ordinance. 

The city of Troy has enacted ordinances that state that only fireworks permitted by the state of Michigan may be possessed; legal fireworks may only be discharged on the state-specified days; a person may not discharge, ignite or use fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance; and people cannot discharge fireworks on public, school or church property or the property of another without express permission. 

In Troy, fireworks may only be used between the hours of 8 a.m. and midnight on federal holidays and the days before and after, except New Year’s Day, when they may be used until 1 a.m. 

The holidays are New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Violations are municipal civil infractions punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.

“The Troy Police Department will issue citations for firework use which is outside the allowed time frame,” said Troy Police Department Lt. Josh Jones. 

“Fireworks were not a significant issue on Memorial Day,” he said. 

He noted that the most difficult part of enforcing the ordinances for police is pinpointing where the fireworks are. 

When neighbors call, they usually can’t give an address, he said. “They typically are not able to give an exact address. Usually, they provide their own address or an intersection and a direction they are coming from. … We try to do education,” he said. “We’re not out there to ruin anybody’s day. It’s a quality-of-life issue with neighbors, children sleeping and dogs.” 

“It’s pretty clear people understand the ordinance, so more enforcement does take place,” Jones said. 

He added that fireworks pose a safety hazard and a fire hazard with the dry spring and early summer. 

“In past years, we have had injuries caused by the ignition of fireworks, and surrounding communities have had fires caused by fireworks.” 

“We’re concerned about all residents. We want people to have fun and do it safely,” he said. 

Assistant Fire Chief Chuck Riesterer said that although there were no fireworks-related incidents on Memorial Day, “fireworks are dangerous.” 

“We recommend people go see a professionally operated show. If you do ignite them yourself, we strongly recommend using due care and caution. And don’t leave them in the hands of children,” Riesterer said. 

“The goal is prevention. Honestly, we’re not looking for perfection. We don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”