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By Randall L. Brown and Julie A. Bradfield
Q: What are the changes to the fireworks laws?
The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act became effective on January 1, 2012. The new statute makes the sale, use, and possession of “consumer fireworks” legal. Consumer fireworks are fireworks that are designed to produce visible and/or audible effects by combustion, such as firecrackers, Roman candles, and bottle rockets. The seller of consumer fireworks must annually obtain a consumer fireworks certificate issued by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and pay the required fee—$1,000 for each retail location that is a permanent building or $600 for each retail location that is not a permanent building. This consumer fireworks certificate must be obtained by April 1 each year in which consumer fireworks are to be sold. The statute also creates a Fireworks Safety Fee, to be collected on all retail sales and forwarded to fireworks safety fund, which will be used for firefighter training, grants to local units and other uses to carry out the Act. The statute also imposes criminal sanctions and civil fines for violating the Act. Additionally, the Act requires retail locations to have fire suppression systems, a valid federal taxpayer identification number, and insurance coverage of not less than $10,000,000 during periods of fireworks sales.
Q: What are the most significant impacts to my municipality under the new Act?
Municipalities may not enact or enforce an ordinance, code, or regulation pertaining to or in any manner regulating the sale, display, storage, transportation, or distribution of fireworks regulated under the Act. However, municipalities are permitted to enact ordinances regulating the ignition, discharge, and use of consumer fireworks. Additionally, municipalities are not permitted to regulate the use of consumer fireworks on the day preceding, the day of, or the day after a national holiday. While municipalities are not permitted to regulate the use of consumer fireworks on the day preceding, the day of, or the day after a national holiday, local noise ordinances may still be enforceable regardless of the day. An individual may not use consumer fireworks or low-impact fireworks (ground and hand held sparkling devices) while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. A minor may not purchase consumer fireworks.
Q: Will the use of fireworks be permitted on private property without approval by the municipality?
This depends on the type of fireworks being used and when they are used. Display fireworks are large fireworks devices that are explosive materials intended for use in fireworks displays and designed to produce visible and audible effects by combustions, deflagration, or detonation. Their use requires an approval process by the local unit of government, which includes meeting insurance and operator competency standards. This part of the law has not changed. The use of consumer fireworks on private property is permitted so long as the use is not in violation with any other section of the Act and locally enacted ordinances. However, persons are prohibited from using consumer fireworks on public property, school property, church property, or the property of another person without that organization’s or person’s express permission. The Act does not specifically address whether a city or village could prohibit the use of consumer fireworks in a public park on a national holiday.
If your municipality has adopted a fireworks ordinance under the guidelines of this new Act, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Municipal Q & A guest contributors: