Fires and complaints prompt officials to restrict fireworks
Several weeks after the Fourth of July, a grass fire on Holmes Road burned an acre of land and two sheds.
Also last month, at McKean and Textile Roads, another grass fire burned five to six acres of land.
Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com
The State lifted a ban on large fireworks this year, and officials say that is causing problems for local firefighters and law enforcement.
But Ypsilanti Township has put in place a new ordinance designed to limit their use as much as possible.
The state law says the fireworks are legal and strips local governments of the ability to prohibit their use on a federal holiday or the days before and after.
But the law does grant municipalities the ability to restrict fireworks’ use on every other day of the year, and the new ordinance in Ypsilanti Township makes it a misdemeanor to ignite or discharge fireworks on all but the 10 federal holidays and the the days before and after each.
The Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved the ordinance at its meeting Monday.
Ypsilanti Township Supervisor Brenda Stumbo said the fireworks have wreaked havoc on residents and public safety personnel.
“The ordinance is going to help to somewhat eliminate the calls and give some relief to residents in the community,” she said.
Stumbo said the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department has seen a spike in the number of noise complaints related to large fireworks during the summer. That ties up officers who could be doing other work, and it is especially difficult to find where the fireworks are being set off.
Copeland said the number of fires related to fireworks is “definitely up” over last year.
“Sooner or later someone is going to get injured and potentially killed —there’s just no oversight,” he said.
Copeland said the Lakeshore Apartments annual fireworks display was partly held because it gave people a chance to see large fireworks in a safe environment that was inspected by the fire department.
But the Lakeshore fireworks were canceled this year and residents were able to launch large fireworks on their own.
The state charges a fee of approximately $600 for people to become fireworks vendor, which provides it with needed revenue.
Local municipalities receive around 20 percent of those funds because they are charged with regulating the vendors.
But Copeland said that adds extra work to the township’s one fire inspector/marshal and there is little regulation.
”The relaxing of requirements makes it almost impossible for us to do enforcement,” Copeland said. “It’s impossible to go to scattered sites and do any enforcement. I would rather have kept the laws the old way.”
Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com. Contact the news desk at news at AnnArbor.corm or 734-6232530.