ASHLAND — Setting off fireworks within the city of Ashland will remain illegal, despite a new state law that allows the discharging of consumer-grade pyrotechnics on certain days of the year.
The city has yet to make a decision on whether to opt in or out of the new state law, said Mayor Matt Miller.
While waiting, however, Ashland’s existing ordinance that limits the discharging of fireworks will remain.
“The truth is, we’re not removing (our fireworks ordinances) from the books,” Miller said. “So far, we haven’t made a determination to take any action.”
Under the new law, which takes effect July 1, residents can discharge fireworks July 3 to 5, along with the Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays before and after, Labor Day weekend, Diwali, New Year’s Eve and Day, Chinese New Year and Cinco de Mayo. They can also be set off Memorial Day weekend starting next year, as well as Juneteenth in 2023.
Miller said city officials want to wait and see how the new law plays out in Ohio.
“If you’re in a rural area, yes, this new law makes sense,” he said. “But when you’re in the city, there are safety issues and noise ordinances.
“You can’t be setting off a Fourth display if all your materials are falling on neighbors’ cars and houses.”
Ashland Fire Chief Richard Anderson said the city’s public safety force is not big enough to investigate every complaint.
“But quite frankly, they’re illegal now,” he said, citing the city’s ordinance.
The ordinance states “no person shall possess for sale at retail, wholesale or otherwise; or sell at retail, wholesale or otherwise; give away, discharge, ignite or explode; or in any other way possess any fireworks as defined herein, within the Municipality, except as provided in Section 549.09.”
Anderson said the city’s fire department is not necessarily inundated with fire calls where fireworks are the culprit.
“But they’re still unpredictable,” he said, adding the dangers include people’s lack of understanding of how to properly use them, mixing alcohol with fireworks and underage people using them.
“Setting them off too close to a building, having aerial devices that go horizontal and not vertical — there’s a multitude of things that can go wrong. You cannot predict how one will react,” he said.
Ashland Police Chief Dave Lay said the department will continue to enforce the city’s ordinance, despite the new state law.
The City of Mansfield joined others across the state earlier this week when its council voted to keep a local ban in place. The council also amended the city ordinance to make the discharge a first-degree misdemeanor and a possibility of a $1,000 civil penalty.
Other cities that have opted out of the state law include Dayton, Cleveland and Toledo.
The Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office cited an uptick recently in the number of injuries and property loss due to structure fires caused by fireworks. But the number of fireworks-caused fires went down in 2021.
There were six fires caused by fireworks in 2019. Those fires didn’t have any injuries and $2,800 in reported property loss.
In 2020, that number shot up to 52 fires, causing one firefighter injury and a reported property loss of $250,701. In 2021, there were 23 fires, leading to two injuries and property loss of $313,800.