By Rick Palsgrove
Get ready for a bigger bang in the neighborhoods this Fourth of July.
According to Groveport Police Chief Casey Adams, a new Ohio, law that goes into effect July 1, allows individuals to possess consumer grade fireworks in Ohio, eliminating a requirement that purchasers transport consumer grade fireworks out of the state within 48 hours of purchase.
It also allows any person authorized to possess consumer grade fireworks to discharge them on their own property or on another person’s property with permission on the following days: New Year’s Day; Chinese New Year; Cinco de Mayo; Memorial Day weekend; Juneteenth; July 3, 4, and 5 and the Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays preceding and following; Labor Day weekend; Diwali; and New Year’s Eve.
According to a statement from Governor Mike DeWine, “The bill I signed limits the discharge of fireworks to the more traditional holidays that Ohioans celebrate, while recognizing our numerous culturally diverse holidays.”
However, the law does permit local governments to restrict the dates and times when individuals may discharge consumer grade fireworks or to impose a complete ban on the use of consumer grade fireworks.
At the May 23 Groveport City Council meeting, Groveport Mayor Lance Westcamp recommended to council that the city restrict the personal use of consumer grade fireworks to only on the Fourth of July.
Council will discuss legislation to take this step at its June 13 meeting and June 20 committee meeting and then possibly take emergency action on it on June 27.
More about the fireworks law
The law also:
•requires licensed retailers, manufacturers, and wholesalers selling consumer grade fireworks to offer safety glasses for free or for a nominal fee and to provide purchasers with a safety pamphlet;
•prohibits discharging fireworks while in possession of or under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance or on someone’s property without permission;
•allows the State Fire Marshal to suspend a fireworks manufacturer or wholesaler if they have violated the fireworks law or State Fire Marshal rules; prohibits the State Fire Marshal from unreasonably withholding a variance to allow hobbyists to manufacture, possess, and use individual display grade and consumer grade fireworks and requires cause for revocation of a hobbyist variance; and
•requires hobbyists seeking variances to demonstrate they can engage in the hobby safely and legally and limits hobbyists to possession of five pounds of raw materials and finished fireworks produced through the hobby.
Reaction from Groveport Police
Adams said individuals must be responsible when using personal consumer grade fireworks.
“Fireworks are not toys and there is always potential for someone being injured,” said Adams. “There’s also the danger that neighbors’ properties in close proximity could be damaged by fireworks or for fires if the grass is dry.”
Adams said the new law changes police enforcement.
“It’s now a different type of enforcement from banning and confiscating as was done in the past,” said Adams. “Now the enforcement concentration will be on scrutinizing individuals to make sure they are using the fireworks responsibly.”
He said people must ensure everyone in and around a launch is safe and the fireworks are launched away from others and structures that could sustain injury or damage when the fireworks explode and fall to the ground. He said the negligent use of fireworks without proper precautions could lead to criminal charges being filed against those responsible for the fireworks.
“I do not want to see anyone injured due to irresponsible use or have any property damage loss,” said Adams. “Those individuals must take into account their neighbors, surrounding environment, and time of day before lighting the fuse. Yes, fireworks are fun to watch when handled properly, but they can also become a weapon of pain and destruction if handled improperly. Know that if you conduct yourself irresponsibly, then your actions could lead to civil and criminal sanctions.”
Fireworks and pets
Adams added pet owners must prepare to protect their pets from fireworks noise.
“Fireworks have other effects on our society,” said Adams. “Pets become frightened from the loud bangs from the fireworks exploding, which causes pets to run away from home to avoid the loud noises.”
Adams has already received a citizen complaint about the new fireworks law.
“The citizen said how fireworks took an emotional toll on his family and created a large financial expenditure from the vet clinic that he was not planning on,” said Adams. “He asked that individuals who want to launch fireworks to celebrate the holidays communicate with their neighbors if you plan to use fireworks close to homes with pets.”