By Rick Palsgrove
As of now, the use of personal fireworks remains banned in Groveport.
At its June 27 meeting, Groveport City Council heard the second reading of an ordinance regarding the personal use of fireworks. The proposed ordinance originally restricted the personal use of consumer grade fireworks to only on the Fourth of July within the Groveport city limits. However, by a 4-2 vote, council amended the proposed ordinance to instead allow the use of personal fireworks on 15 days, which would make it consistent with the new state law regarding the personal use of fireworks. (Council members Jean Ann Hilbert and Jack Rupp opposed the amendment.)
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.
A motion to pass, as an emergency measure, Groveport’s amended ordinance that would adhere to the new state law failed by a 3-3 vote. (Five votes are needed to pass legislation as an emergency. Council members Ed Dildine, Scott Lockett, and Becky Hutson voted to approve while Jean Ann Hilbert, Jack Rupp, and Shawn Cleary opposed.) This means the amended ordinance goes on to its third reading and a final vote on July 11. If it is passed at that time it would go into effect Aug. 10 and then allow the use of personal fireworks on the days listed in the state law.
According to Groveport City Administrator B.J. King, currently under existing Groveport law there is a complete ban on the use of personal fireworks in the city. Because the attempt to pass the ordinance as an emergency measure failed, King said, “This Fourth of July our current code (banning the personal use of fireworks) remains in place.”
Lockett said he preferred Groveport follow the new state law noting that the city could make changes “if problems arise.”
Dildine also wants Groveport to adhere to the new state law rather than restrict the use of personal fireworks.
“People do it (shoot off fireworks),” said Dildine. “It happens anyway. It’s already banned yet not typically enforced unless there is property damage or injuries.”
Dildine said following the state law would result in less confusion about what is legal and when. He added the new state law could give officials an opportunity to provide information to citizens on the safe use of personal fireworks.
Hilbert and Rupp favor 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.
Groveport Police Chief Casey Adams said 90 percent of calls the police get about the use of personal fireworks occur around July 4 and New Year’s Eve/Day.
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.
More about the state fireworks law
The new state 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.