BLUFFTON — With major Fourth of July events like the Star Spangled Spectacular canceled, backyard celebrations at an all-time high — and so are safety concerns.
The American Pyrotechnics Association expects record-breaking sales in consumer fireworks this year. Greg Greer, general manager of Bluffton’s Springfield Fireworks, said their traffic has definitely seen a spike.
COVID-19 shut down the business for six weeks, but they were able to reopen on May 12 and make up for any lost time and revenue.
“It’s hard to say (how much of an increase in sales there has been) because it’s been such an unusual season. Once the season’s over, we will have a better idea,” he said. “With everything going on with coronavirus, we weren’t sure how it was going to be this year, but sales have been really good. I think the canceling of local firework shows has really helped out business.”
Current Ohio law requires a license to discharge large consumer fireworks but not trick or novelty fireworks like smoke bombs and sparklers. Consumer fireworks purchased within Ohio that are not legal must be transported out of the state within 48 hours of purchase. Penalties for failing to follow the state laws can include a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.
According to Sgt. Curtis L. Hile with the Lima Police Department, noise complaint calls associated with party noise and fireworks this time of year are already up. Hile explained that the Fourth of July is usually one of their busier weekends of the year for calls.
In 2019, LPD was dispatched on 85 noise complaint calls in the 10-day span before and after July 4. This year, as of July 1 that number is already up to 46.
“The number seems to be going up this year,” Hile said. “To be halfway there on calls for service, it seems probable we will be quite a bit over what we would see from last year. … The fireworks calls increase significantly around this time and the other calls for service don’t really decrease so that in itself increases the call load significantly.”
Warren Pughsley, inspector with the Lima Fire Department, spoke on fireworks safety at Wednesday’s mayor press conference. First and foremost, Pughsley said, is not to use fireworks illegally and to obey all laws.
Understanding people have been cooped up all year and itching to celebrate, Pughsley expects backyard firework use to be up this year as well, so he provided the following safety tips:
• Report illegal usage
• Read labels carefully
• Have a responsible adult around at all times
• Don’t mix alcohol or other impairments
• Always have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher near
• Wear safety eyewear
• Let off fireworks in an outdoor clearing
• Never relight a firework that doesn’t go off
• Wet down used fireworks before disposal
• Never carry fireworks in your pocket
• Do not experiment with homemade fireworks
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.