Fourth of July revelers urged to keep their personal fireworks at home
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Children were injured last year when two individuals launched fireworks in crowded public parking lots on the Fourth of July, and the two were later arrested for their actions.
The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, which went into effect in 2012, allows for the sale and use of consumer grade fireworks. Fireworks, however, can only be used on the day before, the day of and the day after a national holiday such as the Fourth of July.
The act prohibits setting off fireworks on public owned areas, such as the Grayling City Park, on Crawford County Courthouse property, in the parking lots of businesses, and on streets and sidewalks. Fireworks are also prohibited from being used at state owned parks and campgrounds.
Since Grayling’s fireworks display is set off at the Grayling Country Club, spectators gather in these areas to view the fireworks.
For the last four years, people have been igniting their own fireworks among the crowds of people.
Grayling Department of Public Safety officials are forewarning area residents and visitors that shooting fireworks on public property will be not be tolerated.
“Safety is first with fireworks,” said Russell H. Strohpaul Jr., the chief of the Grayling Department of Public Safety and Grayling Fire Department. “Fireworks are not meant to be used in crowded areas. There is a time and place for fireworks, but not when there are a bunch of people around.”
Steve Eddy, the fire marshal for the Grayling Department of Public Safety, said anyone who shoots off fireworks takes on the responsibility if they hurt people or damage property.
“Anybody that launches fireworks, they’re liable from the time they light that fuse to whatever happens until that firework is dead and is completely out of service,” Eddy said.
The person letting off the fireworks should not be under the influence of alcohol and must take precautions when youth are present.
“Kids, alcohol, and fireworks don’t mix,” Eddy said.
Area residents and Grayling visitors are encouraged to view the community’s public fireworks display, but are urged to use their own fireworks on the confines of their own property.
“They’re best used in wide-open spaces where there is nothing that you’re going to damage, and the person shooting the fireworks controls that environment,” Eddy said.
A long-time fire chief, Strohpaul said he has seen fireworks being redirected at people, causing injury to people’s hearing. He has also seen personal injury to hands from people setting off fireworks.
Eddy said he has seen children receive burns and disfigurement to their faces and to their hands.
More law enforcement and department of public safety officers will be on duty during the Fourth of July to address the use of fireworks.
“We pretty much do that anyway,” Strohpaul said. “At the canoe festival and during holidays, we always beef up when there are special events.”
Outside of national holidays, an ordinance for the City of Grayling says no person shall explode any fireworks or firecrackers except by written permission of the city council.
Phantom Fireworks, Youngstown, an Ohio based company which is selling fireworks in the parking lot near the Grayling Family Fare, offered the following fireworks safety tips:
• The primary rule is that a designated adult should handle, control, and set off the fireworks. The designated shooter must refrain from using alcohol until after the fireworks show.
• There should be an adequate water supply in case of emergencies. A connected hose is best, but a fire extinguisher or even a bucket of water will do.
• The audience should be a safe distance away from the launch site – a minimum of 35 feet from any ground-based product and 150 feet from any aerial product.
• Use only one firework item at a time.
• Never try to relight a product that does not work the first time.
• Never place any part of your body over a firework item.
• Soak spent fireworks in water overnight, then dispose of them in a nonflammable container away from the house and outside of any structure.
“Enjoy the Fourth of July holiday with your family, and do so safely,” said William A. Weimer, the vice president of Phantom Fireworks.