Sterling Heights launches fireworks rule updates

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 31, 2019

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Sterling Heights residents who are starting to stock up on fireworks for Independence Day will now have more days to lawfully set them off, thanks to recent changes by state lawmakers.

In December 2018, the state Legislature changed the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, which originally took effect in 2012 to legalize and regulate public use of consumer fireworks — a category that includes Roman candles and other fireworks that launch off the ground.

At the Sterling Heights City Council’s May 21 meeting, City Manager Mark Vanderpool said the new state rules allow Sterling Heights residents to use consumer fireworks within city limits on the following days:

• The Saturday and Sunday preceding Memorial Day.

• June 29-July 4, as well as July 5 if that day is a Friday or Saturday.

• The Saturday and Sunday preceding Labor Day.

• Between 11 a.m. New Year’s Eve and 1 a.m. New Year’s Day.

The hours of lawful usage on the non-New Year’s days are 11 a.m.-11:45 p.m., according to state law.

Previously, the state had ordered all communities, including Sterling Heights, to allow consumer fireworks use on 10 federal holidays and their preceding and following days — thus declaring 30 days of mandatory allowance.

Under both sets of rules, Michigan communities have had the option to permit or ban fireworks on the other days of the year, and Vanderpool said the city has banned consumer fireworks use on all other days, per city ordinance.

“It is now more stringent than it has been in the past,” Vanderpool said.

At an April 2 City Council meeting, the council introduced a proposal to make Sterling Heights’ fireworks regulations conform to the state’s new rules. Some council members complained about the changes, despite disapproving of the former system too.

Councilman Michael Radtke said the “current regime of our fireworks system is broken,” in part because fireworks in neighborhoods have triggered veterans’ post-traumatic stress disorder and have scared pets.

“I think tightening these rules brings much-needed relief to the community,” he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Liz Sierawski said that while she doesn’t think anyone loves fireworks more than she does, she was “flabbergasted” at the longer stretch of legal days around Independence Day.

“Please, residents, if this is something that also bothers you, please call your state rep, your state senator,” she said. “Our voices are just council. Your voices are the residents, and you make a huge impact, and we need your support to do something better with us.”

Nevertheless, the council voted unanimously to conform its law to the state’s at an April 16 meeting.

Sterling Heights Police Lt. Mario Bastianelli said police get calls and complaints about fireworks from residents around the holidays, and patrol officers also keep their eyes peeled for violations.

Despite the law change, he doesn’t think enforcement will be much different this year.

“Some people are knowledgeable about the laws and some people aren’t,” he said. “Around any holiday, that’s when we’re going to continue being diligent about enforcing the fireworks laws and keeping people safe.”

Find out more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.

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