Aurora is considering an amateur fireworks ban in response to a new Ohio law

Photo by Alexander Kagan

While state lawmakers are on board with shooting off fireworks around various holidays, Aurora city leaders are not — they’re considering opting out of a new state fireworks law.

In November, Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 172, allowing people to set off fireworks on:

  • New Year’s Eve
  • New Year’s Day
  • Chinese New Year Day
  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Juneteenth
  • Memorial Day and the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Memorial Day
  • Labor Day, and the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Labor Day
  • the third, fourth and fifth of July
  • the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday before and after the Fourth of July
  • and Diwali, a five-day festival celebrated in late fall/early winter by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs.

However, individual townships, villages and cities may restrict those dates and times, or may ban discharges altogether.

Council will consider opting out of HB 172 as a matter of public safety, Aurora Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin said.

“Since fireworks can be very disturbing to veterans, animals and others, we believe that there should be limitations on their discharge,” Womer Benjamin said. “We also know that personal use of fireworks can cause serious injury to the user and those in the vicinity.”

Council’s intent is to first opt out of HB 172 and then to update its own ordinance to incorporate changes recommended by city safety leaders. Storage, sale and transport of fireworks will be reviewed as well as actually setting fireworks off.

Aurora police occasionally have to cite people, but usually a warning is enough, Law Director Dean DePiero said.

Though none were in Aurora, Americans suffered some 15,000 fireworks-related injuries last year, Fire Chief David Barnes said.

Aurora’s population density means there are few sites where a person can safely discharge fireworks in a yard, he said.

“When you have a home fireworks display, although the fireworks themselves are smaller, there’s no safety zone, there’s no inspection, and the people aren’t licensed who are discharging them,” Barnes said.

Children are easily injured because they’re not properly supervised, they’re in the wrong place when the fireworks go off, or something falls, he added.

Improperly stored fireworks can spark a fire, as can a simple bottle rocket landing in a gutter. All it takes are a few dried leaves or other organic debris.

“A home fireworks display is just not practical,” he said.

HB 172 takes effect July 1. Barnes said he, the law director, police chief and mayor will review Aurora’s laws try to craft a sensible solution.

“We don’t want to violate anybody’s rights, but we do want everybody to be safe,” Barnes said.

Council will revisit both matters at their next meeting.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.