Law expands fireworks in Ohio


City of Urbana opts out of new law

Staff report



Children play with sparklers while waiting for a local public fireworks display in 2021. Sparklers burn at nearly 2000°F, which can result in an instant skin burn and can easily ignite clothing. Two-thirds of sparkler-related injuries occur in children younger than 5 years.

Children play with sparklers while waiting for a local public fireworks display in 2021. Sparklers burn at nearly 2000°F, which can result in an instant skin burn and can easily ignite clothing. Two-thirds of sparkler-related injuries occur in children younger than 5 years.


Andrew Grimm Photography/file photo

A new law that takes effect July 1 allows Ohioans to legally discharge consumer-grade fireworks on certain holidays, according to information from the state fire marshal’s office.

Under H.B. 172 that was signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine, Ohioans can legally discharge 1.4G consumer fireworks in Ohio on certain days unless the relevant political subdivision has chosen to ban their use. Under previous law, individuals could purchase consumer-grade fireworks in Ohio but had to transport them out of state within 48 hours.

Not all groups support this change. Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate released statistics regarding the dangers of fireworks in the hands of non-professionals (see accompanying story).

The city of Urbana held a public hearing about the issue in which two citizens spoke. The state of Ohio automatically opts in all municipalities, but each municipality can choose to opt out of the expansion of legal fireworks. Urbana City Council voted at Tuesday’s meeting in favor of an ordinance to opt out of the new law by a vote of 6-1 with Mary Collier the only no vote. The council determined opting out of the new law will preserve city residents’ “right to the quiet enjoyment of their premises” and will “avert significant danger and property damage.”

The city of Urbana opt-out ordinance took effect June 21, after the council meeting vote.

Here’s a breakdown of what is legal and illegal under the law for municipalities that have been automatically opted in:

When can Ohioans discharge fireworks?

Beginning July 2022, unless limited by local laws, Ohioans can discharge consumer fireworks on the following dates and times:

-July 3, 4, and 5, and the weekends immediately before and after (4 p.m.-11 p.m.)

-Labor Day weekend (4 p.m.-11 p.m.)

-Diwali (4 p.m.-11 p.m.)

-New Year’s Eve (4 p.m.-11:59 p.m.)

-New Year’s Day (12 a.m.-1 a.m.; 4 p.m.-11 p.m.)

-Chinese New Year (4 p.m.-11 p.m.)

-Cinco de Mayo (4 p.m.-11 p.m.)

-Memorial Day weekend (4 p.m.-11 p.m.)

-Juneteenth (4 p.m.-11 p.m.)

Where can fireworks be discharged?

Consumers can discharge fireworks on their own property or on another person’s property if the owner of that property has given express permission for fireworks to be discharged.

Ohioans must discharge fireworks properly

Ohio Revised Code (R.C.) § 3743.45 (as effective July 1, 2022) and Ohio Fire Code (OFC) § 5626 (effective July 3, 2022) apply and can be read in their entirety on line. Relevant OFC provisions outline how 1.4G consumer fireworks must be used and stored by consumers. Some provisions in the rules include:

-No person under the age of 18 is permitted to handle or discharge fireworks.

-Persons under the age of 18 cannot be within 150 feet of the discharge point of aerial fireworks.

-No person can use fireworks while in possession or control of, or under the influence of, any intoxicating liquor, beer, or controlled substance. A person who violates this is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor.

-Aerial devices cannot be discharged within 150 feet of spectators (this includes aerial shells, roman candles, cakes, and bottle rockets).

-Non-aerial devices cannot be discharged within 50 feet of spectators (this includes fountains, firecrackers, and ground effect devices).

Note: These 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.

-No person can store in excess of 125 pounds (net weight of pyrotechnic composition) of fireworks unless they have additional safety measures and safeguards in place for such storage.

-Fireworks cannot be discharged indoors.

-Fireworks cannot be aimed at or discharged toward any person or object (such as buildings).

-Fireworks cannot be discharged on public property or private school property.

-Fireworks cannot be discharged if drought conditions exist or in an area where a red flag warning is in place or other weather hazard exists.

Where can Ohioans buy fireworks?

Only fireworks purchased in Ohio may be discharged in Ohio. Consumers may purchase fireworks from any of the licensed sales locations throughout the state. When purchasing fireworks, the retailer must provide consumers with safety glasses (for free or at a nominal charge) and with a safety pamphlet.

Can local officials stop Ohioans from discharging fireworks?

As part of the new law, any political subdivision may opt-out of allowing the ability to discharge within their limits so discuss with your local officials the best course of action for your jurisdiction.

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Prevent Blindness warns Ohioans about the dangers of backyard fireworks

As we approach the Fourth of July, The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness warns that there can be serious dangers if Ohioans conduct their own backyard fireworks displays. Nearly half of injuries are to innocent bystanders, including children.

Discharging 1.4G consumer grade fireworks will become legal in the State of Ohio on July 1, 2022, with limits on days of the year discharge is allowable. However, many local municipalities have enacted discharge bans within their boundaries. Rules regarding the discharge of 1.4G consumer grade fireworks are expected to go into effect on July 3, 2022. For information regarding the discharge rules, Prevent Blindness encourages Ohioans to contact the State Fire Marshal’s office.

The 2020 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Fireworks Report, estimated that in 2020, approximately 15,600 people were treated in emergency departments for firework-related injuries, with 66% occurring around the one month period surrounding the Fourth of July holiday.

In 2020 an estimated 2,340 fireworks injuries were to the eye and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately one third of eye injuries from fireworks result in permanent blindness.

Nearly half of all fireworks injuries are to innocent bystanders –many of them children.

Of the 2020 fireworks-related injuries, approximately 24 percent of those injuries were to children under the age of 15, or nearly 3,744 children.

Eleven percent of injuries were to children under the age of five, with sparklers accounting for 36 percent of the estimated injuries for that group.

Fireworks cause tens of thousands of fires nationwide each year and tens of millions of dollars in damage.

Sparklers burn at nearly 2000°F, which can result in an instant skin burn and can easily ignite clothing. Two-thirds of sparkler-related injuries occur in children younger than 5 years.

Prevent Blindness believes that there is no safe way to use fireworks and supports the development and enforcement of bans on the importation, sale and use of all fireworks and sparklers, except those used in authorized public displays by competent licensed operators. Prevent Blindness thanks the local municipalities that have taken steps to enact legislation that bans the discharge of these dangerous fireworks within their boundaries and encourages other municipalities to do the same. Prevent Blindness facilitates the Ohio Fireworks Safety Coalition and Ohioans Against Fireworks whose member organizations educate the public on the dangers of consumer fireworks and endorse public policies to help protect adults and children from needless injuries from fireworks.

In addition to the many healthcare and safety groups that oppose the use of 1.4G consumer grade fireworks without a license, other opponents are animal advocates who report that dog shelters are overrun around the Fourth of July with dogs that have been startled by fireworks discharges and run off. Farmers similarly express concerns as fireworks can startle cattle and other livestock or cause damage to crops. Veterans suffering from PTSD endure symptoms and stress brought on by fireworks discharge.

“The Fourth of July can still be fun without backyard fireworks or sparklers,” said Amy Pulles, President & CEO of the Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness. “By leaving fireworks to the professionals, you will not only avoid a tragic visit to the emergency room yourself, but you will also respect the time, effort and other resources of our already overstrained emergency responders and healthcare workers.”

For more information on the dangers of fireworks, please call Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate at (800) 301-2020 or visit preventblindness.org/prevent-eye-injuries-fireworks.

Children play with sparklers while waiting for a local public fireworks display in 2021. Sparklers burn at nearly 2000°F, which can result in an instant skin burn and can easily ignite clothing. Two-thirds of sparkler-related injuries occur in children younger than 5 years.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2022/06/web1_sparklers.jpgChildren play with sparklers while waiting for a local public fireworks display in 2021. Sparklers burn at nearly 2000°F, which can result in an instant skin burn and can easily ignite clothing. Two-thirds of sparkler-related injuries occur in children younger than 5 years. Andrew Grimm Photography/file photo
City of Urbana opts out of new law

Staff report