DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The Ohio Fire Chiefs Association’s Legislative Committee will support Senate Bill 72, the law proposed by State Senator David Burke that would legalize fireworks use in Ohio.
Currently, fireworks can be purchased in the state, but can’t be used in the state. People buying fireworks sign a form during purchase stating they will only use the fireworks if they leave Ohio.
“We are in support because we will have more control of the legal focus and the educational focus,” Troy Fire Chief Matt Simmons said.
It has been an oxymoron for years. You have to sign this piece of paper saying you are taking these out of state, and you are selling these to people with Ohio license plates. it doesn’t make any sense.Troy Fire Chief, Matt Simmons
Simmons is a member of the committee that researched Senate Bill 72, which has been under proposal for several years and is now in committee.
The bill is expected to become law by the end of this year, according to Simmons, if it survives its journey through the Senate and the Ohio House.
“There’s a lot of forethought we’ve put in,” Simmons said. “We are in favor if there is a good educational base on safety. Right now we have nothing other than, ‘Leave it to the professionals.’ Our concept would be the same as educating people on avoiding home or recreational fires.”
The bill would give municipalities the power to enforce fireworks use in their given jurisdictions. That could mean banning them all together or any other restrictions the municpality would have.
Currently, firing fireworks in the state of Ohio is a misdemeanor but people are rarely charged.
The Fire Chief’s legislative committee researched other state and municipal laws before coming to their decision. Simmons researched Kentucky, and found different municipalities used a variety of different laws. He gave Lexington as an example, where fireworks use is only legal a few days a year around the Fourth of July.
The bill would collect proceeds from sales into a fund for the State Marshall to eduate the public on fireworks use.
The big takeaway from the chiefs was the confusion of allowing the sale of fireworks in Ohio but banning their use. Simmons said if sales were banned, then the chiefs wouldn’t support passing a law legalizing their use.
“It has been an oxymoron for years,” Simmons said. “You have to sign this piece of paper saying you are taking these out of state, and you are selling these to people with Ohio license plates. it doesn’t make any sense.”
The bill still faces opposition. Melissa Wervey Arnold, CEO of the Ohio Chapter of the Academy of Pediatrics said the organization is against attempts to legalize fireworks.
“We remain concerned over any attempt to legalize discharge in the state of Ohio,” Arnold said in a quote provided to 2 NEWS. “Studies have shown that legalization leads to more frequency and severity in fireworks-related injuries to children. We hope Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly will continue to be champions for children’s safety and reject fireworks legalization.”
Fireworks used in community demonstrations will still require state licenses and training.
The are has seen two high-profile injuries in the last year related to fireworks.
In July 2018, a man was critically injured after suspected fireworks went off in a car he was occupying on Delphos Street.
This week, 25,000 fireworks were recalled after a 12-year-old boy in Oxford lost his hand while attempting to fire a rocket.
Correction: This story said previously 1.4g fireworks would be illegal under the bill. According to Amy Pulles of the Blindness Institute, 1.4g fireworks would be legal under Senate Bill 72.