It’s that time of year again when the rockets’ red glare illuminate the sky during fireworks displays as west Oakland County residents ring in the Fourth of July holiday with a bang, and we wish everyone a happy Independence Day. We also urge people to respect their neighbors by not intruding on private fireworks displays. In addition, with this being the first year that a new state law is in effect allowing for public use of “consumer-grade” fireworks, we urge people use the proper safety precautions and the requisite level of common sense if they are dealing with the newly-legal yet still dangerous pyrotechnics.
Every year, a bevy of homeowner associations, municipalities and organizations put on private fireworks displays for dues-paying members. When we publish our annual story on the displays — not just the private ones, but also the public ones — we stress that the private displays are intended to be just that: Private.
The associations putting on the private events do all the associated and necessary legwork, from hiring someone to actually shoot off the fireworks to obtaining insurance and permits from local communities. That’s no small chore. If they want their event to be for members only — at least as much as possible when you’re shooting something off into the night sky — residents of west Oakland County should let them keep the events that way.
There are plenty of public fireworks events — Sparks in the Park on Saturday, June 30 in Highland Township and the return of Wixom’s fireworks display over Sibley Park tomorrow, Thursday, June 28, both come to mind — to sate your cravings for mid-air pyrotechnics. There’s no need to be a party-crasher at a private fireworks display; you can get your Fourth of July jollies without infringing on what is intended to be a closed event for dues-paying members of homeowner associations.
But even more than just extending a common courtesy, however, there is a legitimate safety factor that needs to be stressed this upcoming Fourth of July holiday. After several years of work, Lansing lawmakers last year successfully shepherded through legislation relaxing the state statute prohibiting the purchase and sale of so-called consumer-grade fireworks devices without a permit. Proponents at the time argued that Michigan residents were simply going to neighboring states such as Ohio and Indiana to purchase the consumer-grade fireworks and bringing them back to Michigan to light off on the Fourth, meaning that the state lost out on millions of dollars in tax and license revenues.
Under the new law, consumer-grade fireworks are defined as fireworks devices that are designed to produce visible effects by combustion and that are required to comply with the construction, chemical composition, and labeling regulations put forth by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Display fireworks are defined as large fireworks devices that are explosive materials intended for use in fireworks displays and designed to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, deflagration, or detonation.
Translation: These consumer-grade fireworks are not for the feint of heart, and they can do some serious damage to life, limb and property if improperly used, or if proper precautions and safety measures aren’t taken.
We backed the enacting bills when they were making their way through the legislative process, and we still support the new law. However, as we noted in April 2011, there is a legitimate safety concern to heed.
Among some of the precautions that should be taken if you plan on ringing in the Fourth of July using the newly-legal fireworks, it would be a wise move to keep a hose and/or bucket of water handy to extinguish fireworks materials if necessary. In addition, if you plan on using any mortar-type devices, stay on the safe side and be sure that the mortar stand is sturdy enough to withstand the punch the device packs; those things are no joke and can do some serious damage. Those are just a few of the specific ways that you can enjoy your Independence Day with the new fireworks and make sure you have all your digits — and your life — next year to keep celebrating the same way.
When all is said and done, however, it’s important to simply use common sense when exercising your newfound freedom to purchase consumer-grade fireworks. For example, as a national holiday, many have the day off of work, meaning that it’s an opportune time to enjoy an alcoholic beverage — or a few. If you plan on drinking, have someone who hasn’t consumed alcohol be a chaperone of sorts to set off the new consumer-grade fireworks.
These devices are serious safety hazards if used improperly or without the appropriate amount of caution. Stay safe this Fourth of July holiday, west Oakland County, and be sure to respect your neighbors and others in the community.
Happy Independence Day.