Oregon takes middle-ground approach to fireworks

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oregon City Council recently enacted legislation that takes a new approach to seasonal fireworks regulations.
        This summer, the Ohio Legislature took steps to permit the use of certain fireworks by Ohio residents on some holidays. Previously, it was a violation of state law for residents to use fireworks, such as roman candles, at their residence even on the Fourth of July.
        The City of Oregon has taken a middle-ground approach in response to this new law. This past week, Oregon City Council passed a law that generally parallels state law but does allow the city to make changes moving forward should that be necessary.
        Residents have discharged fireworks for celebration purposes for generations even when it wasn’t legal.
        "It's always been illegal, but communities tend to tolerate it until it gets out of hand," said City Administrator Mike Beazley. "Now the state has passed a law making a certain class of fireworks legal. Ohio for the first time has made that legal for home use. But if a city wants to opt out and make their own law, they had to act by the end of June. We wanted to maintain our ability to amend the law if it turned out that the state's experiment didn't work very well and things got out of hand."
        Some highlights of Oregon's new fireworks law:
       • Oregon residents can legally discharge 1.4G consumer fireworks on certain days. 1.4G consumer fireworks are found in licensed fireworks showrooms and sold to the public at various retail locations in Ohio. 1.4G fireworks are sometimes called consumer fireworks. Examples include parachutes, pin wheels, plans, repeaters, roman candles, shells, skyrockets, tubes, chasers, morning glories, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and fountains.
        •1.3G fireworks cannot be discharged or purchased in Oregon. 1.3G fireworks are used by Ohio licensed exhibitors and are often called display fireworks. These include aerial shells that are fired from a mortar.
        The dates and times residents in Oregon can discharge 1.4G fireworks started in July. They include the following:
        •The first day of January, from midnight until 1 a.m. and 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.;
        •Chinese New Year from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.
        •The fifth day of May from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.;
        •Memorial Day from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.;
        •The nineteenth day of June from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.
        •The third, fourth, and fifth days of July from 4 p.m. until 11 p.m.;
        •Labor Day from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.;
        •Diwali, from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.;
        •Dec. 31 from 4 p.m. until 11:59 p.m.;
        •Any additional day in the month of July that the city chooses to celebrate Independence Day from 4 p.m. until 11 p.m.
        Residents can discharge fireworks on their own property or on another person's property if the owner of that property has given express permission to do so.
        You must be 18-years-old or older to discharge a 1.4G firework. No person under the age of 18 is permitted to handle or discharge fireworks. Persons under 18-years-old cannot be within 150 feet of the discharge point of aerial fireworks.
        There is a distance limitation to discharge 1.4G aerial fireworks for all other spectators. Aerial devices, including aerial shells, roman candles, cakes and bottle rockets, cannot be discharged within 150 feet of spectators.
        There is also a distance limitation to discharge 1.4G non-aerial fireworks for spectators. Non-aerial devices, including fountains, firecrackers, and ground effect devices, cannot be discharged within 50 feet of spectators. The separation distances, for both aerial and non-aerial devices, are increased for certain types of locations, such as hospitals, schools, healthcare and residential facilities, apartment and multi-tenant buildings, military installations and railroads.
        You cannot discharge a firework while in possession or control of, or under the influence of, any intoxicating liquor, beer, or controlled substance.
        You cannot store fireworks in excess of 125 pounds unless you have additional safety measures and safeguards in place for such storage.
        Fireworks cannot be discharged within 150 feet of property housing livestock unless five days advance written notice is provided to the owner of the property where the livestock is housed.
        The city is urging the public to follow basic safety protocols when discharging fireworks. Each year, thousands of people are injured in fireworks-related incidents. Some die as a result. In addition, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year resulting in extensive damage to structures, vehicles, and property. The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers the following guidelines for safety:
        •Never allow young children to handle fireworks;
        •Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear;
        •Never hold lit fireworks in you hands;
        •Never light fireworks indoors;
        •Only use fireworks away from people, houses, and flammable material;
        •Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks;
        •Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding;
        •Keep water or a fire extinguisher nearby to fully douse fireworks that don't discharge or in case of a fire.


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