By SHERRI KOLADE
With one week left before Independence Day, a new state law loosens its grip on fireworks restrictions, allowing firework aficionados and the like to go “boom” —but with common sense.
Michigan lawmakers lifted the ban on fireworks, citing losses of $8 to $12 million in sales tax revenue each year from residents who drove to Indiana and Ohio to purchase airborne fireworks, according to a Dearborn press release.
State law provisions for the newly-lifted ban include not allowing people to use fireworks on public properties, including schools, churches, government buildings, city streets and parks. Fireworks also cannot be discharged by minors or anyone under the influence of alcohol.
Police plan to enforce the city’s noise ordinance if the fireworks are too loud or are too close to a building; the police will work within the provisions of the state law. The police will also issue violations when necessary, according to the release.
Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said with the more lenient state law in effect, enforcement will be tougher.
“If any injuries occur, we’ll prosecute to the fullest,” Haddad said.
He added that prosecution will occur on a case-by- case basis.
Haddad said injuries can occur if proper precautions are not taken, because fireworks such as bottle rockets and Roman candles have the potential to be dangerous.
“They are unpredictable,” Haddad said. “They can fly, they are erratic … you can knock your eye out, you can lose fingers.”
In 2010 more than 8,000 people across the country were treated for burn injuries caused by fireworks, according to the release.
Every year, thousands of dollars in property damage are reported because of fires caused by the unsafe use of fireworks, according to the release.
Telegraph Cigarette Station Owner Kevin Bruce sells bottle rockets and Roman candles, and said even though there has not been a big rush on customers purchasing fireworks from the store, at 3965 Telegraph, there will be soon, especially with the ban lifted.
“Five to seven days (before July 4) we get busy,” Bruce said. “But we are expecting (the ban lift) to be a good thing hopefully. Anything that makes customers get in the door to spend their money is a very good thing.”
Safety also is a good thing, Bruce said, because in accordance with state law, he does not allow customers under 18 years old to purchase fireworks, or anything airborne.
“Several weeks ago I had a couple kids about 15 and 16 years old come in and try to buy some,” Bruce said. “Kids are irresponsible, especially for the newly legal ones. And some of these fireworks are really powerful explosives and you don’t want someone getting their hands on them.”
Dearborn resident Joe Sullivan said even though he didn’t give the new law much thought, he doesn’t mind the change.
“Kids are doing it anyway,” Sullivan said.
Dearborn residents are encouraged to call 313-943-3030 to anonymously report unsafe activity in their neighborhood, or to call 911 if there is a dangerous or emergency situation.
Dearborn Heights residents are encouraged to call 313-277-677 to anonymously report unsafe activity in their neighborhood, or to call 911 if there is a dangerous or emergency situation.
(Sherri Kolade can be reached at [email protected])