Officials: Keep firework safety in mind this holiday

MANISTEE COUNTY — Before lighting off fireworks this holiday, officials urge the public to consider

People are reminded to use caution with fireworks this holiday. (Courtesy Photo/David Navadeh Photography)

leaving the big show to the professionals.

In 2017, at least eight people died and around 12,900 were injured enough to require medical treatment due to fireworks-related incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Manistee County sheriff John O’Hagan said the most effective way to stay safe this Fourth of July is to enjoy a public display.

“Leave it to the professionals to put on the display for everyone to enjoy,” he said.

If lighting off fireworks, O’Hagan said people should be mindful of a few safety concerns, including fire risks and potential injuries.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, more fires are reported on July 4 than any other day of the year. Each year, fireworks result in nearly 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and 17,000 other fires and thousands of injuries.

“I would want folk to keep in mind that with fireworks, there is an increased chance of injury so taking extra precautions is paramount,” O’Hagan said. “Simple rules such as using protective eye gear, not letting young children access fireworks, but if they do, direct supervision is a must. Read the instructions carefully before igniting; use fireworks one at a time and do not bundle them together.”

The Manistee County Sheriff’s Office handles various complaints around the holidays pertaining to fireworks. At times, O’Hagan said it can be difficult to track complaints.

“We do respond to those complaints as manpower allows; however, tracking down the person(s) responsible is sometimes difficult without specific information or a description of the person in violation,” O’Hagan said. “The numbers for complaints vary.”

While some know their local ordinances and state laws, he said others ignite fireworks without checking.

“I think most understand the night of a holiday they can expect some fireworks, but fireworks going off all hours of the day and night can impact sleep for some, their animals, and even for our veterans it causes real hardship,” O’Hagan said. “We ask that people be considerate of others around them by making sure they are following the laws regarding fireworks.”

A new Michigan law prohibits local governments from regulating consumer fireworks on certain days. In the City of Manistee, fireworks are allowed, however an ordinance prohibits certain activity.

An ordinance amendment was adopted by Manistee City Council in March stating that “no person shall ignite, discharge or use consumer fireworks in the city,” except from starting 11 a.m. on the following days:

• Dec. 31 to Jan. 1 until 1 a.m. each day;

• Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Memorial Day until 11:45 p.m. on each of those days;

• June 29 to July 4 until 11:45 p.m. on each of those days;

• July 5, if a Friday or Saturday, until 11:45 p.m.; and

• Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Labor Day until 11:45 p.m. on each of those days.

Anyone that violates any provisions of “Chapter 663 Fireworks” is guilty of a municipal civil infraction, and will be fined $1,000 for each violation. In addition, $500 of each fine collected under the ordinance will be remitted to the City of Manistee Police Department.

“Some townships have adopted ordinances, so people should check with their township or village regarding the use of fireworks in specific area,” O’Hagan said. “According to the Fireworks Act, the times and dates are listed where local ordinance will not regulate the discharge of fireworks.”

Firework users are also prohibited from igniting them on public property.

“Fireworks are to be used on private property only,” O’Hagan said. “Individuals cannot light fireworks on public property, such as schools, churches, roadways or the property of another person without their permission. This is what generally triggers the majority of calls into dispatch when people are disobeying these simple rules.”

Undersheriff Ken Falk, in a previous interview, said the Manistee County Sheriff’s Office enforces the following State of Michigan laws on fireworks, throughout the entire county:

• Setting off or using fireworks on public property, church property or private property of another without permission is a civil infraction, with a fine up to $500;

• Igniting or using fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance is a misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine;

• Smoking within 50 feet of a retail fireworks sales point is a misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine; and

• Selling commercial fireworks to a minor is a civil infraction, with a fine up to $500.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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