Playing with fireworks: Changes in law mean more options, more concerns
By Adelle Whitefoot
MARQUETTE – There are many safety concerns when it comes to using fireworks, whether they are consumer fireworks or low-impact fireworks.
According to the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, consumer fireworks are firework devices designed to produce visible effects by combustion. These fireworks, such as bottle rockets, roman candles and other items that leave the ground, were once illegal in Michigan, but due to changes that are effective as of Jan. 1, they are now legal for use and sell.
Even though consumer fireworks are now legal in Michigan, there are still laws that can be broken if they are used improperly. According to the act, if a person ignites, discharges or using consumer fireworks on public property, school property, church property or another person’s property without permission, that person is responsible for a state civil infraction.
“What I think is really important to understand is that you can’t go buy these consumer fireworks and go down to the public beach and shoot them off,” said Sgt. Kevin Dowling of the Michigan State Police Negaunee post. “It’s not legal to do there and the way the law is written now you have to be on your own property or property that you have permission to be on.”
Other than regulating where consumer fireworks are allowed to be used, the act also regulates the punishment if someone uses fireworks while under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance or a combination of both.
“The the state is trying to impress is that, firework use while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is now a crime,” Dowling said. “It’s a pretty serious infraction if you are using any kind of fireworks while under the influence as well as dangerous.”
According to the act, if a person is caught using consumer or low-impact fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it’s a 30-day misdemeanor. If the violation results in damage to another person’s property, it’s a 90-day misdemeanor.If the violation causes serious injury to another person, it’s a 5-year felony and if it causes death, it’s a 15-year felony.
Other than not being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the Marquette City Fire Department offers other tips on how to be safe. According to their website, the fire department suggests:
• Lighting fireworks with a long fireplace match or an aimed flame device.
• Having a small fire extinguisher or garden hose on hand and
• Placing fireworks in sand or on a non-combustible surface.
• Don’t light fireworks in dry and windy conditions.
• If a firework fails to go off, do not try to relight it. It is suggested to wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a metal can filled with water.
Consumer and low-impact fireworks can only be purchased and possessed by a person of 18 years of age or older.
Never give fireworks of these kind to children and always read and follow label directions.
For more information about firework safety, the new safety act or what fireworks are legal in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/bfs