Michigan law now allows the use of consumer-grade fireworks

A new Michigan fireworks safety act was signed into effect January 1, 2012; explore the law in order to understand its regulations and to ensure your safety.

In late December, Gov. Rick Snyder signed P.A. 256, which allows the sale and use of consumer-grade fireworks in Michigan. Consumer-grade fireworks, labeled 1.4G fireworks, are those that leave the ground and contain higher levels of explosive mixture than low-impact fireworks -- ground-based devices containing 500g or less of explosive mixture that have long been legal for sale and use in Michigan. Examples of consumer-grade fireworks include bottle rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers.

The act prohibits sales of these fireworks to minors (anyone under the age of 18) and the use of consumer-grade fireworks by anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It also specifies that fireworks may not be used on public property, school property or the private property of another person unless express permission is obtained.

A local community concerned about safety and fire risk cannot enact an ordinance banning the sale of consumer-grade fireworks but can enact an ordinance banning the shooting of these fireworks anytime other than the day before, day of and day after a major federal holiday.

Many local fire department chiefs around the state have expressed concern about the increased fire risk that may result from use of consumer-grade fireworks. It is difficult to control where these devices land, and their use most often occurs during hot, dry summer weather. They can easily ignite dead leaves and dry grass  when they land. The chiefs urge Michigan residents using consumer-grade fireworks to do so with extreme caution.

Whether fireworks are being handled by a private individual or a trained professional, wildfires can result. In 2005, during the finale of the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival, a low burst of fireworks burned 8 acres of dune vegetation. Fortunately, there were no homes in the area. The following day, the fire rekindled and burned additional dune vegetation near downtown Grand Haven, Mich.

In July 2007, youth playing with fireworks caused the Laketown Township fire, which destroyed three Lake Michigan shoreline homes. The estimated value of these Allegan County homes was nearly $4 million. The youth responsible for causing the fire were charged with a felony.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Council on Fireworks Safety offer the following safety tips:

  • Always read and follow label directions.
  • Always have an adult present.
  • Buy only from reliable fireworks sellers.
  • Ignite fireworks outdoors only.
  • Be sure to have water handy.
  • Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks.
  • Light only one device at a time.
  • Never try to reignite malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Never give fireworks to small children.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Dispose of fireworks properly.
  • Never throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.

For updates on the risk of wildfire and to find out whether outdoor burning can be done in your area, check the Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s burn permit Web site; also visit the Michigan State University Extension Web site. If weather conditions are such that outdoor burning is prohibited, it may be wise to delay your use of consumer-grade fireworks until conditions improve.

Information about the new Fireworks Safety Act can be found by visiting the Bureau of Fire Services, Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Web sites.

A flyer of the types of fireworks now legal in Michigan can be downloaded from the Bureau of Fire Services’ Web site.

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