(Crystal A. Proxmire, June 23, 2013)
UPDATE: Ferndale approved the ordinance change unanimously.
A new bill allows cities more flexibility in regulating hours of fireworks, and Ferndale council members are ready to make some changes to the local ordinance.
In response to legislation that was signed on June 19, City Attorney Christ drafted an Ordinance to amend Chapter 9, Fire Prevention and Protection to ban the use of fireworks within the City except on the day before, the day of, and the day after a national holiday. On those days, use of fireworks would be prohibited between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 8: 00 a.m. and New Year’s Day 1:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.
In 2011 the Michigan legislature passed The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, which lifted previous bans on more powerful fireworks such as Roman Candles, Bottle Rockets and other items that leave the ground. The Act also set up regulations of the sale and use, established fees, and established a Fireworks Safety Fund to help local firefighters deal with the potential dangers of allowing people to use them. It also said that cities had to allow them on the day before, the day of and the day after holidays, but that they could ban them from other days. The change now is in including hours of enforcement.
“Last year was significantly louder as a result of the new state law allowing more powerful fireworks. At times it sounded more like a war zone than a celebration. Not only did we have more complaints, but these fireworks pose a greater safety risk. Mayors from across Oakland County and across the state asked the legislature to give us some ability to control it, so they modified the law to allow cities to limit the hours. Curtailing the fireworks from midnight until 8 am stills allows people to have their fun but also let’s their neighbors get some rest, too,” said Mayor Dave Coulter, who is expected to introduce the revisions to the ordinance at Monday’s City Council meeting.
The use of more powerful fireworks was a concern for the fire marshal last year. Fire Marshal Brian Batten told Ferndale 115 “Make sure you follow the instructions and make sure they are going up where they won’t come down and get on somebody’s roof. We had one instance where a piece came down and burned their neighbor’s pool cover.
Batten said that while fireworks-related injuries and fires are rare in Ferndale, it’s possible the newer larger fireworks could be more dangerous.” He described one particularly bad accident. “Around 88 or 89 we had a young boy lighting off fireworks. But of course he didn’t want his parents to know so he was hiding in the closed, and he set the house on fire.”
Last year near the 4th of July, a Hazel Park man lost a leg to a fireworks accident.
For more information on the proposed changes to the ordinance, see http://ferndale-mi.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=23&meta_id=36049.