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Birmingham Bans Fireworks Except on National Holidays

Mayor says enforcing laws is time-consuming for local police while a city commissioner predicts more accidents in light of a newly relaxed Michigan law.

If you're planning on setting off some fireworks at your backyard barbecues this summer, think again.

Monday night, the Birmingham City Commission amended its fireworks ordinance, effectively banning the ignition, discharge and use of consumer fireworks except for the day of, before and after a national holiday.

The move comes after the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act went into effect at the beginning of the year, repealing former sections of the Michigan Penal Code regarding fireworks and setting new regulations for their purchase, sale and use.

According to Chief Mike Metz, the act prohibits local governments from regulating the sale, display, storage, transportation or distribution of fireworks.

What local governments can do, however, is regulate the ignition, discharge and use of consumer-grade fireworks, which include firecrackers, bottle rockets and roman candles.

And that's just what Birmingham is doing. According to the ordinance passed Monday night, it is now illegal to discharge consumer-grade fireworks in Birmingham except on national holidays and the days before and after.

These holidays include New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those caught violating the ordinance will be charged with a $500 fine.

According to Metz, the new ordinance also prohibits the possession of consumer fireworks by a minor not accompanied by an adult. The ordinance also prohibits the use of consumer and low-impact fireworks (such as sparklers or smoke devices) by a person under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.

Metz said Birmingham isn't the first community to pass an ordinance banning the use of consumer fireworks; recently, cities such as , and passed similar ordinances.

Mayor Mark Nickita said he rode along with a officer last Friday night, noting they spent quite a bit of time tracking down folks shooting off fireworks. The amount of complaints dispatch received that night, he said, was considerable.

"It's a costly thing for us (to enforce fireworks ordinances)," Nickita said. "As a municipality, we're spending our time doing this when we could, of course, be doing more important things."

City Manager Bob Bruner said representatives from the Michigan Municipal League and the state's fire service have been fighting the new law for months now, pushing for more local control. Bruner said he sees the issue more as a potential nuisance problem.

"It's now legal to shoot off bigger fireworks in an urban area like Birmingham," he said. "I encourage residents to be smart. Don't shoot off fireworks on days it's not allowed. And if you do, do it at a time that reasonable," noting residents can still receive a nuisance violation if they shoot off fireworks at odd hours.

City Commissioner Rackeline Hoff said allowing people to set off their own fireworks is also a safety problem.

"In addition to being a nuisance, I think it's a great danger," she said. "I think we're going to see a lot more incidents of people getting hurt."

Resident Dorothy Conrad said the state law is disappointing and a "terrible thing" for local government.

"This is marvelous example of the state enacting something without a thorough discussion among the local units of governments who are going to be charged with enforcing all of this," she said.

Chloe June 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM
They should be forbidden at any time. They are an obnoxious nuisance. Only professional fireworks should be displayed.
Ron Dwyer June 27, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Council missed the point by banning all fireworks. The nuisance is those that shoot up in the air in clustered neighborhoods. I have no problem with standard fireworks as long as they stay on the ground and do not get shot off after 11pm. Those that want to shoot those larger ones that explode in the air, should be allowed to purchase a permit, have insurance and be able to shoot them off at a park from dusk to prior to 11pm. By requiring someone to purchase a permit and have insurance this will eliminate 99% of the problems.
Alan Stamm June 27, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Under the law that kicked in this year, no Michigan city can ban consumer fireworks on the day of, before and after a national holiday. Not disagreeing about "obnoxious nuisance," mind you.
Racer Boy June 27, 2012 at 01:52 PM
I think everyone should actually READ the new law before they begin their criticism. It goes well beyond the simply purchase of larger fireworks.
Steve Knox June 27, 2012 at 02:35 PM
I had a couple beers and lit some sparklers with my kids last night. I think I committed a crime. Oh, and after that, I put on my helmet and went skateboarding in my neighborhood. I think that's illegal too. Let's all be just like the Birmingham Commissioners and sit at home inside and watch TV! Ready, set, go . . .
Champ Kind July 03, 2012 at 04:08 PM
My nose can't reach that high.

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