Letter: Clarifying the new state fireworks Law

Kevin Sehlmeyer

For many Michiganians, holiday celebrations involve shooting off fireworks and, with Independence Day just around the corner on July 4, it is important to clarify the new state fireworks law, as it has been the subject of many incorrect reports and misinterpretations.

The Ford Fireworks burst over downtown Detroit on June 24, 2019.  
(Robin Buckson / The Detroit News)

With the amendment of Michigan’s Fireworks Safety Act of 2011 in December 2018 (Public Act 256), local government entities — villages, townships and cities — were given the right to restrict the days and times for using consumer fireworks by enacting a local ordinance.

If a local government chooses to restrict fireworks in their municipality by passing a local ordinance, state law requires that fireworks must be allowed on the following days, after 11 a.m.:

  • Dec. 31 until 1 a.m. on Jan. 1
  • The Saturday and Sunday before Memorial Day, until 11:45 p.m.
  • June 29 to July 4, until 11:45 p.m.
  • July 5, if it falls on a Friday or Saturday, until 11:45 p.m.
  • The Saturday and Sunday before Labor Day, until 11:45 p.m.

Local government officials who assume that their municipality is simply following state law by not passing a fireworks ordinance may be inadvertently putting zero restrictions on fireworks usage in their town. This may not be what they intended, but it is what state law puts forth. If no action is taken at the local government level, state law allows for fireworks to be used all year long. Simply put, if there is no local ordinance restricting fireworks, then there are no fireworks restrictions in your municipality.

Michiganians looking forward to shooting off fireworks in their yard are encouraged to contact their local municipality to ask if there is a local fireworks ordinance, and if so, to confirm what days are legal to shoot off fireworks. While the local ordinance cannot restrict usage on the 11-12 days mentioned in state law, it is important to know the rules since the amended state law also stipulates that if there is a violation of a local ordinance, a civil fine of $1,000 can be imposed.

The Ford Fireworks burst over downtown Detroit on June 24, 2019.

Safety must always be the top priority as fireworks are explosives and any mishaps can result in irreparable injury or death. Always purchase fireworks from an authorized retailer that displays a state-issued certificate to sell fireworks — whether that be a permanent building or a tent. Consumer fireworks must meet Consumer Product Safety standards and will only be sold to individuals 18 years of age or older. Never purchase fireworks packaged in brown paper. Don’t try to relight duds. Only shoot them off from your own property. Keep kids and pets away when setting off fireworks. Keep water and a fire extinguisher nearby. Be safe while you celebrate.

For information about fireworks and fire safety, please visit the Bureau of Fire Services website at www.michigan.gov/bfs.

I wish all Michiganians a safe and happy Independence Day.

Kevin Sehlmeyer is the Michigan state fire marshal.