DEARBORN HEIGHTS — With Independence Day fast approaching, Dearborn Heights public safety officials are urging residents to practice fireworks safety.
In addition to neighborhood and community fireworks displays, many residents buy and light their own in their yard or in the street.
“We certainly want our residents to enjoy themselves throughout the holiday,” Dearborn Heights Fire Chief David Brogan said. “And, of course, a big element of our Independence Day celebrations include fireworks. I just want to remind our residents and those who visit Dearborn Heights that even the smallest fireworks can be hazardous if they’re not used correctly. We just want folks to be smart about how they are using them.”
Both Brogan and Dearborn Heights Police Chief Jerrod Hart agree that fireworks, while legal in Michigan, should be handled with the utmost care and by someone who has knowledge and training on their safe use.
“Even the most simple fireworks present potential hazards,” Brogan said. “A major concern is the use of fireworks by children. For example, small hand-held sparklers that are frequently used by kids burn at almost 2,000 degrees — that is hot enough to melt some metals. Every year, upwards of 10,000 people visit emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries — mostly burns to the hands, eyes and head. And sadly, over a third of these people are children under the age of 15. Kids just don’t have the knowledge or realize the hazards of playing with fireworks until it’s too late. The parents need to step in and keep their kids out of harm’s way with these.”
According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), fireworks start an estimated 19,500 fires annually, including 2,000 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires and more than 17,000 outside and other fires, resulting in an estimated $105 million in direct property damage.
“All fireworks, particularly the aerial ones, are designed to be used in wide-open environments,” Brogan said. “Aerial fireworks — no matter how small they are — launched in the middle of the crowded subdivision are dangerous. Even the smallest ones drop smoldering debris, which can ignite if they land in a patch of dry grass, or worse yet, on top of someone’s roof.”
Hart said that it’s important to remember that some of the largest fireworks such as Cherry Bombs, M80s, M100s, Ashcans and Quarter-Sticks are not actually considered fireworks, but are classified as illegal explosive devices and most of which are banned federally. Residents who are caught using these fireworks face confiscation of their remaining inventory and could face charges, including significant fines.
“The use of fireworks is also limited to specific days as outlined in state law and local ordinance,” Hart said. “Leading up to Independence Day, fireworks may be discharged from June 29 to July 4 and must cease by 11:45 p.m. Those caught discharging fireworks on unauthorized days or times may be ticketed and are subject to a $500 fine.”
A full list of the city’s ordinances can be found on its website and include firework ordinances.
“We want our citizens to have a great holiday,” Brogan and Hart said. “Just do it carefully and with some good common sense when it includes fireworks of any type.”