WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to amateur fireworks season, and GS Fireworks owner David Jewell is stocked up and ready.
“Sometimes fireworks are kind of a last-minute detail,” he said. “So they’ll be coming in here Friday, Saturday, Sunday.”
But Jewell’s customers may have less time to fire off their favorite consumer-grade pyrotechnics this summer.
After years of complaints from people rattled by late-night explosions in the days surrounding federal holidays, Michigan lawmakers passed legislation late last year giving local communities more control over when fireworks can be lit.
Communities don’t have to have any restrictions if they so choose, but the new laws allow communities to whittle down the number of days consumer-grade fireworks can be lit from 30 to 12.
Each community will have the option to restrict consumer-grade fireworks on all days except the Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, an entire week around July Fourth, the Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend and New Year’s Eve.
If you think the changes are bad news for fireworks sellers, Jewell disagrees.
“I think it’s going to benefit us,” he said.
Before the optional amendments, consumer-grade fireworks could only be fired off the day before, after and during each of the federal holidays.
Jewell says while the new law allow eliminates days fireworks can be set off around some federal holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, those times weren’t big money-makers.
“They weren’t very practical to be shooting fireworks. But our big ones —Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and New Year’s — those are our big ones,” he explained.
And under the optional revised rules, customers will have more time to fire off consumer-grade fireworks around the Fourth of July.
It’s still up to local communities to decide whether to rewrite their ordinances to reflect the change in state law. While details are still being worked out, Grand Rapids is among the communities considering changes.
“The ordinance is being looked at right now. We intend on having that in place by July Fourth,” said Grand Rapids Fire Chief John Lehman.
Along with limiting what many consider a nuisance, Lehman says he hopes the new rules will improve safety.
“It’s a risk to the community,” he said. “So we do definitely, we’ve had experience with incidents created by fireworks, and we definitely up our game during those times when people are out there discharging them.”