West Bloomfield officials remind residents about fireworks rules

By: Andy Kozlowski | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 10, 2019

 The West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees recently approved changes to the local fireworks ordinance.

The West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees recently approved changes to the local fireworks ordinance.

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Summer is a time of year when fireworks are in heavy use, lighting up the skies in spectacular displays that many find patriotic, but that others find distressing.

Those who need to rise early for work can lose sleep when fireworks are blowing up at night, and they’re especially unsettling for skittish pets or military vets with post-traumatic stress disorder. That’s why it’s important that residents adhere to local ordinances, city officials say.

“The most common complaints lodged by residents are excessive noise levels; ignition of fireworks late in the evening or early morning; and safety concerns, such as fireworks causing a fire to a home,” said Steven Kaplan, the township supervisor.

Earlier this year, the township of West Bloomfield adopted a new ordinance that’s in line with state laws adopted at the end of 2018. Under the new ordinance, consumer fireworks may be ignited, discharged or used in the township on the following days after 11 a.m.:

• Dec. 31 until 1 a.m. Jan. 1.

• The Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Memorial Day — but not Memorial Day itself — until 11:45 p.m.

• June 29 through July 4 until 11:45 p.m.

• July 5, if that date is a Friday or a Saturday, until 11:45 p.m. July 5 is a Friday this year.

• The Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Labor Day until 11:45 p.m.

Violating these restrictions could result in a $500 fine, and on rare occasions there could be additional costs due to damage and expenses — for example, if a fire were to occur requiring the Fire Department to respond.

Consumer fireworks can only be used by those 18 years of age or older, and they cannot be ignited, discharged or used on public, school or church properties, nor on the private property of another person unless one has the express written permission of the property owner.

Consumer fireworks cannot be used by a person under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances. Minors are not allowed to possess or use fireworks at any time.

Violating these restrictions on who can use fireworks and where is a municipal civil infraction that’s punishable by up to $1,000 in fines for each violation, $500 of which goes to local law enforcement upon the violator pleading guilty or being found responsible.

The most recent amendment to the ordinance was adopted by the township board April 15. Kaplan said the tighter restrictions were in response to feedback from residents.

“Complaints from residents have increased in each of the past five years,” the supervisor said. “Since police officers respond immediately to each call, they are diverted from crime prevention and traffic patrol during each call.”

“Noise is the most common complaint,” said Byron Turnquist, the fire marshal for West Bloomfield. “There have been fires as the result of improper use of fireworks — a couple of grass or brush fires, and three house fires. One was caused by fireworks landing on a roof, and the other two were the result of improper disposal of fireworks.

“When using fireworks, please make sure that you are using them in a safe place, clear of combustibles, homes, vehicles, bystanders, etc. Always have a fire extinguisher nearby,” he said. “Place used fireworks in a bucket of water for a period of time to make sure that they are extinguished before putting them into the trash. Never allow children to run or throw sparklers. Never try to reignite a firework that didn’t ignite the first time. Leave it be for some time and soak it in water.”

Kaplan said he encourages residents to be smart with this pastime.

“Use of fireworks is a traditional way of celebrating national holidays,” he said. “West Bloomfield leadership encourages residents to employ safety measures through the use of fireworks and hopes that those reveling in the activity will be courteous toward their neighbors.”