Ohioans to enjoy fireworks at home | News, Sports, Jobs
By July 4, and possibly sooner, Ohioans will be able to use consumer grade fireworks without breaking the law.
It is currently illegal to use these fireworks in Ohio – Massachusetts is the only other state to ban them – but people are rarely prosecuted for it.
The state legislature has approved a bill, with Senator Michael Rulli, R-Salem, as the main sponsor, that makes it legal to discharge consumer fireworks on certain days: the day and the day before. new Year ; Chinese New Year; Cinco de Mayo; Memorial Day weekend; the tenth of June; July 3, 4 and 5 and the preceding and following weekends; Labor Day weekend; and Diwali, a five-day Indian festival.
The law also allows the use of fireworks on “Legal holidays” as defined by the revised Ohio code. In addition to some of the above days, ORC lists the following days as statutory holidays: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Columbus Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and “Any day designated and recommended by the Governor of that state or the President of the United States as a holiday”.
Local governments could restrict dates and times or even impose a total ban on fireworks under the law. It will not come into force until 260 days after its signature by the governor.
“It’s a beautiful bill” said Bruce Zoldan, president and CEO of Phantom Fireworks of Youngstown, the nation’s largest consumer fireworks retailer. “The bottom line is people are buying fireworks and using them in Ohio. They will do it this year. We have had many bills passed by the House or the Senate, but they have not been able to agree on a bill. I’m glad they were able to agree on this one.
However, Zoldan is not sure that DeWine, whom he calls a longtime friend, will sign him.
“The governor has some hesitation”, Zoldan said. “I hope he signs it and is trusting the facts. It is a wise decision to legalize it. But I think there are enough votes in the House and Senate to override a veto if it gives one.
Zoldan said the bill makes the use of fireworks safer because it imposes a 4 percent retail fee beginning 100 days after the bill’s effective date. This money would be used to fund firefighter training programs as well as to pay for the regulation and enforcement of the fireworks industry by the Ohio State Fire Marshal. It would crack down on counterfeit fireworks dealers, he said.
The bill also establishes the Ohio Fire Code Rules Recommendation Committee, which is made up of the state fire marshal, local fire chiefs, a local police chief, members of the Ohio State Pyrotechnics Association, a member of the Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness, an Ohio Optometric Association member, member of the Ohio Pyrotechnic Arts Guild, representative of the Ohio section of the American Academy of Pediatrics and member of the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants. The committee would advise the state fire marshal on the rules regarding the use, sale, manufacturing licenses and wholesale licenses of fireworks.
“With the right settings and safety precautions, Ohioans will soon be able to safely celebrate our vacation,” Rulli said.
As for his business, Zoldan said that the legalization of fireworks in Ohio “Roughly double our turnover in the state. There is a large percentage of people who will be waiting to buy until they are legalized in Ohio.
Phantom operates more than 85 stores and approximately 1,600 seasonal stands and tents in 15 states, Zoldan said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Zoldan said Phantom had about twice as many sales as in 2019. It will do even better this year, he said, although Phantom did only got 70% of the fireworks ordered due to a shipping crisis in China, where fireworks are manufactured.
The bill also allows retail fireworks companies to increase the maximum floor space from 5,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet as long as proper sprinkler systems are installed.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene said: “I’m definitely not against fireworks as long as people are responsible. This is the key: people have to be responsible with the fireworks.
But the bill had opposition.
Sherill K. Williams, president and CEO of the Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness – an organization representing healthcare providers, hospitals, fire safety officials and animal advocates – said the group feels “strongly that this bill will result in more fireworks injuries to Ohioans.”
Williams added: “Despite industry warnings and public service announcements, many consumers believe that if something is legalized, it is inherently safe. This is the core of our concern with (the bill). Ohio’s ban on launching fireworks sends a clear message to our citizens: Fireworks are dangerous. “
About half of all fireworks injuries are caused by passers-by and not by people actually lighting the fireworks, Williams said.
In Ohio, a person can currently purchase fireworks, but it is illegal to use them in the state. They must be taken out of state within 48 hours of purchase. The only items allowed are novelties that produce smoke, pop and / or sparkle. Although it is a first degree offense to use fireworks in the state, the law is rarely enforced.
Michael D. Farley, vice president of government affairs and general counsel for the Ohio Insurance Institute, a property and casualty insurance association, also opposed the bill.
“The proliferation of consumer grade fireworks will likely lead to more injuries among children in Ohio,” he said. The law project “Is a widely open provision to approve the use of consumer grade fireworks in Ohio.” “
State Representative Michael J. O’Brien, D-Warren, a long-time advocate of fireworks legalization, said the bill “Gives people permission to do what they’ve been doing for decades, but legally. There is local control so communities can decrease dates or times or ban fireworks altogether. The state fire marshal will have rules and with 4% of gross revenue going to the state fire marshal, he funds security. “
The provision that the law will not come into force for 260 days will allow the fire marshal to set the rules and make them understand to wholesalers, O’Brien said.
It will also help the local economy, as Phantom as well as Wholesale Fireworks in Niles employ a lot of people, he said.
“The bill has been going on for over a decade”, O’Brien said.
State Representative Al Cutrona R-Canfield said: “Lawmakers have given it a lot of thought. There is a lot of education in the bill. People light fireworks on July 4th. At least now it will be in the law. It is a good bill, and it is long overdue.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2020 Annual Fireworks Report, approximately 10,300 fireworks-related injuries were treated in US emergency rooms between June 21 and July 21, 2020. only the types of fireworks that can be legally fired by consumers. Tips for handling:
• Only handle and unload special effects and novelty devices under adult supervision;
• Learn about the dangers of each type of device used;
• Read and follow the label directions on the package of a Tips & Tricks device;
• Light only one sparkler at a time and keep it away from your body, as well as from others;
• Sparklers should only be used by a person 12 years of age or older;
• Sparkler wires should be immediately placed in a bucket of water to avoid injury, as they stay hot for a few minutes after exhaustion;
• Consider replacing sparklers with a safer alternative, such as glow sticks.
SOURCES: Division of the State Fire Marshal of the Ohio Department of Commerce and the Ohio Association of Fire Chiefs