DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Officials with the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association tell 2 NEWS they support a bill that would legalize the use of fireworks in Ohio, but others, including some doctors, have concerns about the proposal.
Supporters of Senate Bill 72 tell 2 NEWS they believe changing the law would allow firefighters to better educate the public on fireworks safety and give local jurisdictions more power over enforcement.
Chief Rick Haacke of the Trotwood Fire & Rescue Department told 2 NEWS his department still responds to emergencies connected to fireworks every year.
“The current law that we have on the books – where you can purchase fireworks in the state of Ohio but you have to remove them within 48 hours out of the state to legally use them – obviously does not work,” said Haacke, who is a member of the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association.
Chief Haacke said he does not have a problem with legalizing the use of fireworks in Ohio, as long as the new law includes certain restrictions.
“You’re going to have to have 1,000 feet between any structure so that way any of the fallout or debris coming back does not land on something or catch something on fire,” he said. “Our biggest concern is the threat of life.”
Doctors like Jeremy Larson of Dayton Children’s Hospital share that concern.
Dr. Larson is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The organization’s Ohio chapter is against the legalization of fireworks use, according to a statement sent to 2 NEWS.
“Even in some of these simple fireworks that people think are safe, like sparklers and firecrackers and the small ones, we see hand, face, neck, eye injuries very frequently,” Dr. Larson said.
Dr. Larson said he believes legalizing the use of fireworks will lead to a spike in injuries.
“We do see bystander injuries, and about half of pediatric injuries related to fireworks are occurring to people who are just watching, not even the ones setting them off,” he said.
People on both sides of the debate agree that it’s safer to watch a professional fireworks display than trying to shoot off fireworks yourself.
Senate Bill 72 is currently in committee.