GENESEE COUNTY — A new state law, Act 256 of 2011, regarding the sale of fireworks went into effect Jan. 1.
The law regulates the sale of consumer fireworks, a grade of explosives which include roman candles, bottle rockets, missile-type rockets and arial fireworks.
According to City of Burton’s attorney Richard Austin, the law recognizes 30 days in which consumer fireworks are allowed. This includes 10 national holidays and the day before and the day after each. The holidays include:
• New Year’s Day • Martin Luther King Jr. Day • Washington’s Birthday • Memorial Day • Independence Day • Labor Day • Columbus Day • Veterans Day • Thanksgiving Day • Christmas Day
Earlier this month legislature passed a bill that increases fines for repeat violations to the firework law. This includes selling without a certificate, not turning in safety fees to the state and selling fireworks to minors. The bill also prevents minors from having fireworks. The maximum fine for the civil infraction is $500 and up to 90 days in jail.
Recently, the City of Burton introduced a moratorium that would enforce the state law. Before the new state law went into effect Burton only allowed the smaller fireworks like sparklers and ground fireworks that “do not spin or shoot in the air.”
Austin said the new state law is a curious piece of legislation.
“I only would have wished that the statute had addressed an answer to several of the questions unanswered,” said Austin. “One question is whether or not the local municipalities can enforce our noise ordinance.”
According to Austin, it could be one year to 18 months before the appellate courts make a decision regarding the noise ordinances.
Burton Fire Chief Doug Halstead said the new state law is not written in a manner that is conducive to a “good neighbor policy.”
According to Halstead, the fire department’s role in overseeing the fireworks has been taken out with the new law.
In a report by the National Fire Protection Association, in 2010 there were 15,500 reported fires due to fireworks with 8,600 to injuries that required hospitalization.
Burton resident Jeff Gaylord is vending for USA Fireworks at the corner of Belsay Road and Court Street.
“The new law created a job opportunity,” he said. “It was a serendipity type of thing.”
Shawn Duncanson, Burton Police officer, has not had problems with the new fireworks law at this time. He said he is waiting for the 4th of July.
“The noise ordinances will be effected,” he said. “We are going to be put into a spot and we are going to have to come up with a policy.”
Halstead said the police departments are stretched and they don’t have the time to spend on neighbor complaints and noise ordinances.
“I think its going be really hard on the police department,” said Halstead.