With the first warm-weather holiday weekend of the year upon us and the Fourth of July less than six weeks away, some townships and cities are concerned about a potential barrage of amateur fireworks discharges starting up.
Harrison Twp. officials are reminding residents that the discharge, ignition or explosion of fireworks was officially banned in the township last summer, after the state of Ohio made it a community by community decision.
Captain Brad Daugherty, of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Harrison Twp. Substation, said the agency has responded to 75 calls within the past year related to fireworks usage.
“Most of (these instances) surround the times that the new state law allows for the discharge of fireworks,” Daugherty said, adding that these infractions most often occur around major holidays, especially those in the summer months.
Despite the 75 documented calls in the past year related to illegal fireworks use, Daugherty said no citations have been issued for such an infraction in that time, though officers reserve the right to do so.
“Most of the time, (the individuals) have stopped letting off fireworks by the time deputies have responded to the area,” he said. “Or, deputies will give a warning and as long as they stop letting them off, they will not get cited.”
The penalty for discharging fireworks in Harrison Twp. is a first-degree misdemeanor, which could result in up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
In 2021, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 172, which went into effect last year and allows the discharge of consumer-grade fireworks on private property except in communities choosing to opt out, according to the state.
The law allows Ohioans to set off consumer-grade fireworks from 4 to 11 p.m. on certain designated days — including July 3-5, the weekends immediately before and after Independence Day and several cultural and religious holidays. Memorial Day weekend is one of the allowable times. Consumer-grade fireworks include firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles.
Along with Harrison Twp., several cities across the Dayton area moved to ban fireworks in the wake of the bill’s passage.
Kettering, Trotwood, Beavercreek, Dayton, Fairborn, Germantown and Oakwood have all opted out of the state law, with many citing safety concerns.
“Our fundamental responsibility is to keep everyone safe and, just like every year before, we will continue to enforce the law as it relates to the use of fireworks in the city,” Trotwood Police Chief Erik Wilson said Wednesday.
Vandalia also has an ordinance prohibiting the use, display and/or sale of consumer fireworks within the city.
“The Division of Fire feels that the display of fireworks, especially in densely populated residential areas, by untrained/unlicensed persons, present a serious risk to the customers we protect and their personal property,” Fire Chief Chad Follick said.
The city of Huber Heights has taken a less formal stance on the issue. While the city has an ongoing ban against the discharging of fireworks, no ordinance has been passed to officially opt-out of the state law.
“My position is that we continue to respond, when time permits based on calls for service, to complaints of fireworks being discharged in the city; however, we take an education approach instead of enforcement,” Huber Heights Police Chief Mark Lightner said, adding that enforcement can be difficult when the volume of complaints are high, which tends to happen around major holidays.
When responding to these complaints, Lightner said officers are instructed to give “warnings to desist.” If such warnings are ignored, he said individuals may be charged in accordance with the city’s disorderly conduct/disturbing the peace ordinances.
Earlier this year, Xenia City Council passed a moratorium on consumer-grade fireworks retailers in the city, citing safety concerns and lack of existing local regulations.
The city had received “multiple requests” from businesses wanting to establish fireworks retail locations in Xenia, but the Xenia Fire & EMS Division raised safety concerns over the “sale, use, and storage of fireworks” in retail locations, particularly those that are not stand-alone buildings, per city documents. The temporary ban is in effect until Aug. 15.
In May 2022, West Carrollton repealed its laws prohibiting the possession, use and sale of fireworks, allowing the city’s regulation of consumer-grade fireworks to be in line with Ohio’s changes.
In Butler Twp., Administrator Erika Vogel said there have not been any issues in the township relating to the use of fireworks, and trustees have not passed any ordinances restricting or regulating fireworks beyond state law.
When fireworks can be used in jurisdictions that allow them
Between 4 and 11 p.m. on the following days:
New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day (4 p.m. to 1 a.m.)
Chinese New Year
Cinco de Mayo
Memorial Day weekend (Saturday-Monday, May 27-29, 2023)
Juneteenth (June 19)
July 3-5, and the Friday-Sunday immediately preceding and following July 4
Labor Day weekend (Saturday-Monday, Sept. 2-4, 2023)
Diwali (Nov. 12, 2023)
About the Author