'For PTSD Survivors, It’s a Nightmare’: Thousands Burning to Repeal Fireworks Law

Residents signing MoveOn.org petition say the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, designed to increase tax revenue and create jobs, is making their neighborhoods sound like war zones and putting their safety at risk.

Several thousand Michigan residents have signed an online petition asking the Michigan Legislature to repeal a law that allows residents to shoot off powerful pyrotechnics on 10 major holidays. "I felt like I was in a war zone," one resident said.
Several thousand Michigan residents have signed an online petition asking the Michigan Legislature to repeal a law that allows residents to shoot off powerful pyrotechnics on 10 major holidays. "I felt like I was in a war zone," one resident said.

Rebecca Dioso says the legal fireworks Michigan residents are allowed to shoot off before and national holidays “sound like mortars” and are “triggering flashbacks” for her husband, a war veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

The Brownstone woman and more than 9,300 people have signed a petition on MoveOn.org to repeal the 2011 law that allowed Michigan residents to possess consumer fireworks.

“For PTSD survivors, it’s a nightmare,” Lori Fromm of Rochester Hills agreed, saying people set off quarter sticks of dynamite as part of holiday revelry. “I felt like I was in a war zone.”

Denise Hammond of West Bloomfield Township started the petition last week after her relative said the fireworks were so disruptive they’d never visit from Texas on a holiday again, the Detroit Free Press reports.

She and others supporting the petition say the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, revised in 2013 to allow powerful pyrotechnics that rival professional displays on 10 national holidays, and the two days sandwiching them, is being abused. Fireworks are being deployed beyond the hours and days allowed in the law, they said.

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  • What have you experienced in your neighborhood now that more powerful pyrotechnics are legal on holidays? Should the law be modified or repealed?

“There were still fireworks explosions going off last night (Saturday, July 12): that's 11 straight days! If I wanted to hear explosions every night I would move to Iraq or Syria,” said Theodore Wizenberg of Farmington Hills.

The idea behind the law was to create tax revenue and more jobs, but the residents signing the MoveOn.org petition say residents are paying too high a price.

Charles P. Hall of St. Clair Shores said Michigan legislators “chose to put dollars before the health, safety and welfare of Michigan residents.”

“Safety act?” said another St. Clair Shores resident, Cynthia Mossner. “There is nothing safe about allowing fireworks in residential neighborhoods in the hands of untrained users. The law is not being followed the police can’t/don’t enforce it. Please repeal now.”

Timothy Kingsbury of Dearborn said that individuals have the right to freedoms until those freedoms infringe on the rights of others.

“If I choose to be live quietly, it does not affect my neighbor, but if I choose to make noise it may affect my neighbor's right to quiet,” he wrote on the site. “If people want to be surrounded by noise, then go seek it out where the majority want it.”

Like others, he complained about the safety and littering issue, noting that more than “90 percent of the junk that is launched  into the air does not fall back on the launch site.”

He also worries about fire because some of it falls while still burning or without yet exploding.

Ron McLeod of Birmingham said he’s not only tired of the noise and waste, but he also worries about fire hazards associated with teh explosives. “Bonehead politicians only care about money,” he said.

“... Mark my words, eventually someone's house is going to catch fire and it won't be the home of the people lighting the fireworks, it will be mine or one of my other neighbors who were innocent bystanders in the whole thing,” wrote Nancy Silwinski of Brownstone. “Please make the law that the only people who shoot off fireworks are the professionals and in designated areas on designated days. I am not against fireworks in the proper place at the proper time overseen by professionals, just this free-for all that fireworks in Michigan have become.”

The comments on the petition site mirror those police officials throughout Michigan are receiving.

Livonia Mayor Jack Kirksey told the Free Press his city’s police department has received more than 100 complaints since early July about fireworks that rattle windows and cause loud booms well after midnight, but very few of them have resulted in arrests because the activity ceases when police get near.

“Our little dog is a nervous wreck,” Kirksey said. “He goes into our shower stalls and quivers in the corner.”

In Royal Oak, the City Commission has already gone on record asking the Michigan Legislature to repeal the law. In a statement last spring, Mayor Jim Ellison said the state law usurps local officials’ authority.

“The loss of local control on this important issue risks the quality of life and safety that our residents expect us to preserve,” Ellison said in a statement. “The irony of the Michigan Fireworks ‘Safety’ Act is that it allows for the storage of explosives next to our homes and businesses.”

Repeal of the law is unlikely, Rep. John Walsh, R-Livonia, told the Free Press.

“There’s been enough acceptance on the part of most citizens. But certainly, there could be more local control added,” he said.

Rep. Harold Haugh, D-Roseville, the sponsor of the law, said he understands the criticism and dislikes fireworks himself, but said they have brought jobs and sales-tax revenue to Michigan.

“We’ve revised this law three times now, and we’ve given the local communities as much control as I could get passed. I think people are getting the message” to use fireworks responsibly, “but you can’t legislate against (being) stupid,” he told the Free Press.

Patricia July 17, 2014 at 09:55 PM
We had a "j--- -ss that actually "hired" a guy several years ago to set them off at the intersection in our residential neighborhood and they were aimed down the street and they landed exploding 3 ft. from my husband sitting on our porch, on our roof, and the flaming debris also landed next to other neighbors windows, porches, yards, etc. and this man was never held accountable --I guess he threw his "weight" around a bit…..and got away with endangerment, trespass, intent to do bodily harm, harassment, intoxication on public property, disorderly conduct, etc. etc. and we verbally told him and recored for him to stop, all he did was ran down the street , about 40 feet and there the stuff into our front yard to further cause harm, fire and intimidate us--jack ass is much too kind of a word to describe him, his wife and his friends, including a neighbor, ... we have the photos….and other neighbors were so scared they hid in their basements….the police were called more than once and this was before it was legal…..so we got rid of the Police Chief. The Officer that didn't do anything is now gone as well…and then we went right on down the line--and all that moved in are younger people loud, rude, in your face with a "commune" mentality. They are personally loud, their dogs never shut up, they drink up and down the street carrying open liquor and they like to make lots of noise, smoke out neighbors and installed overly bright lights that illuminate 5 other properties while they put fences and bushes up to "hide" light and glare from their bedrooms, decks, porches, and from their view, the very area they are lighting to be able to see--did I tell you they are stupid as well? The only rights they see are theirs and they are so ignorant, they believe they own the entire neighborhood in addition to their property…because they extend their rights into other properties….....can't wait to send them our tax bill and next house payment…..they want our rights, let them pay for them……and that is what Lansing needs to be told as well--
Rich Margittay July 18, 2014 at 10:41 AM
Now, two weeks after July 4, the same Dearborn neighbor is shooting up exploding rockets. He does it for about 10 minutes after dark, then hides in the house, aware that neighbors will be calling police; which I do, (giving dispatch the exact address). After calling police regarding the same law-breaker 4 different days, I requested that the officer locate the man and tell him to cease. The dispatcher said: "If the officer does not catch the man in the act, it is the policy of police that the responding officer WILL NOT responds to the chronic violator's address." So, with this dubious policy in place, I fully expect this violator to do his thing all summer.
Brad Jensen July 18, 2014 at 10:58 AM
Rich, set up video cameras. That is actually legal as long as it isn't pointed into a bedroom window, etc. Either that or gather a bunch of your neighbors together and go over to his house as a group and politely ask him to stop.
Rich Margittay July 18, 2014 at 01:23 PM
Brad: With reasonable people, this group technique (or a request from you) will likely work in neighbor-problem cases. However, with sick individuals, the person may think about a reprisal against the complainant(s). IMO: Never let a sick (meaning: possibly sick in the head) neighbor or law-breaker know you dislike what he/she is doing. Otherwise, your troubles may become even worse. It is often healthy and wise to play it safe and let police handle law-violators/trouble in your neighborhood (anonymously). Generally, people who break laws know they are in violation and don’t care about you. Cops are paid to handle violators and neighbor troubles; and you can still remain on friendly terms with that disruptive/inconsiderate nuisance.


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