After Fourth of July marred by tragedy, should Michigan change fireworks laws?

fireworks new year's july 4 independence celebrate
Posted at 6:53 AM, Jul 09, 2021

The Fourth of July in metro Detroit was marred by tragedy. Incidents with fireworks in Michigan have been increasing since a 2011 law.


“Basically embraced the full line of consumer fireworks regulated by the Consumer Products Safety Commission,” said Julie L. Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association.

These are all of the fireworks that are legal in Michigan:

Legal Fireworks in Michigan by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd

And all of these dates and times are when they’re allowed to be used, regardless of local ordinances:

Courtesy State of Michigan

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts hopes that’ll change.

“Please state legislature change the law. Fourth of July is fine, but why do we need to have this continuous onslaught on our neighborhoods from Memorial Day to mid-July,” said Fouts.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts

Fouts has been a vocal critic of fireworks outside of the Fourth, and highlights what he explains as consistent calls from residents angered and unnerved by them.

"They shouldn’t be heavy duty fireworks. You can shoot of fireworks, but giant rockets that go in the sky and land in someone's house should be off limits. And you oughta also, I think people should be concerned about their neighbor," said Fouts.

There’s also concerns about safety.

Fireworks were involved with an estimated 15,600 injuries treated in US hospital emergency departments in 2020

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports at least 18 fireworks deaths in 2020 and 15,600 injuries needing hospital visits.

This year in metro Detroit, a near-miss with a firework going through the window near where a young girl was playing,

“She was sitting on my bed on the other side of that window," said Hannah Dye, the girl's mom. "My daughter could be dead right now."

Laws about fireworks in Michigan

And On the Fourth, 24-year-old professional hockey goalie Matiss Kivlenieks lost his life in Novi to a fireworks accident.

The medical examiner determining Kivlenieks died from chest trauma.

“There was some type of fireworks malfunction where a mortar-type fireworks had tipped on its side and fired,” said Novi Police Lt. Jason Meier.

Heckman says, "these reloadable-type mortar devices need to be discharged from a flat, level surface. That’s really important to keep those devices stable. You want to keep your spectators at a safe distance.”

She urges consumers to use fireworks the right way.

44% of the emergency department-treated fireworks-related injuries were burns

"Fireworks can be safe when they are used properly, so yes I do believe there is an inherent danger. They are designed to burn," she said.

This leaves some arguing that projectile fireworks should be left to professionals and potentially banned once again in Michigan.

“Professionals don’t use those fireworks. They use a different class of products that are far more energetic and regulated by the ATF," said Heckman.

 Julie L. Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association

Fouts says, “The state legislature needs to listen to the citizens and not just listen to the special interest groups of which the fireworks industry is one. They need to listen to the people and I think the people are loudly saying lets have a reasonable fireworks law and not one that creates a war zone in my neighborhood.”

Bills have been introduced in Michigan’s House and Senate to change the state’s fireworks laws. They’ve both been referred to Committee on Regulatory Reform. It's unclear when or if, they will be taken up and voted on.