By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport City Council is considering exercising the city’s option to modify a new state law regarding the personal use of fireworks.
Council will consider legislation at its June 27 meeting that would restrict the personal use of consumer grade fireworks to only on the Fourth of July within the Groveport city limits.
“This proposed ordinance would prohibit the discharge of consumer grade fireworks on all dates specified in the new Ohio law – except for July 4,” said Groveport City Administrator B. J. King. “Discharge of consumer grade fireworks would be permitted on July 4 if this legislation is approved.”
The new Ohio law, which goes into effect July 1, allows individuals to possess consumer grade fireworks, eliminating a requirement that purchasers transport consumer grade fireworks out of the state within 48 hours of purchase.
The new state law 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.
However, the law permits 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. Groveport officials will consider limiting the discharge of personal fireworks to July 4.
At its June 20 committee of the whole meeting, council members debated the issue. Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert and Councilman Jack Rupp were in favor of the ordinance restricting the use of personal fireworks. Both said they are concerned about the potential injuries brought on by the use of personal fireworks.
“I want to prevent someone from getting hurt,” said Hilbert.
However, councilmen Scott Lockett and Ed Dildine said they were opposed to the proposed restriction.
Lockett said he preferred Groveport follow the new state law saying the city’s proposal to restrict it is, “a solution looking for a problem.” He said police efforts to track down those firing off personal fireworks are like a game of “whack-a-mole.”
“I applaud the effort, but it has no effect,” said Lockett.
Dildine said that, if the use of personal fireworks becomes an issue, city officials can address it later. He said following the state law would result in less confusion about what is legal and when.
“People are going to do it anyway (shoot off fireworks) whether we restrict it or not,” said
Dildine, who added the new state law could give officials an opportunity to provide information to citizens on the safe use of personal fireworks.
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.
Groveport Police Chief Casey Adams said individuals must be responsible when using personal consumer grade fireworks.
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.