Rules are for a safe Fourth

Published 1:18 pm Saturday, June 30, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – The Fourth of July holiday is a few days away, which means it's time to celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and show our support and patriotism to the U.S.A.
Picnics, parties and other events will be going on July 3 and 4 at many locations around the area. With these celebrations comes the use of fireworks, and Michigan law enforcement officials want residents to be careful and aware of the laws when purchasing the colorful displays.
"People need to know that Indiana fireworks are illegal in Michigan. That's the biggest thing," Niles Fire Chief Larry Lamb said. "Anything that leaves the ground, or makes a loud boom is illegal and people will get in trouble for it. Unfortunately, it's hard for some of us because they sell them so close, but you can and will get in trouble if you are caught with them."
Captain James Merriman said people will be prosecuted if they are caught lighting off fireworks that aren't allowed in Michigan. This includes Class B fireworks, which require a special permit.
"They are just so dangerous. The only fireworks allowed in Michigan are Class C's, which consist of the fountains and anything that stays on the ground. I know those aren't the best to watch, but this is something that is done for the safety of Michigan residents. If you go to any hospital over the holiday, you'll find a lot of people injured, some severely, because they were lighting illegal fireworks and either weren't careful or didn't know how they worked," Merriman added.
Lamb said even the smallest fireworks, like roman candles and sparklers, are very dangerous and can cause bad injuries.
"Those seem less harmless and children love them, but they are nothing more than a burning piece of paper," Lamb said.
If you want to see a great fireworks display, this year's event, sponsored by the Four Flags Chamber of Commerce, will take place on Tuesday, July 3 at the Jerry Tyler Memorial Airport at dusk. Those wishing to watch the display may do so by watching from the Apple Festival grounds at the corner of Lake and 17th streets. If weather should be an issue, the display will be held on Wednesday, July 4.
"We know people watch the display at other locations, and sometimes onlookers get a little too close to where they are being set off. The Apple Festival grounds usually are far enough away that we don't have to worry about the shells going that far. But when people sit in other locations, they need to know that, depending on the size of the firework, those shells can really fly great distances," Lamb said.
That's why extra volunteer firefighters and police officers are on hand during the display. Not only in the case of an accident, but also to make sure people in attendance are being safe with their own personal fireworks.
"This year the VIPS (Volunteer in Police Services) will be out in their electric cars riding around the fair grounds. We'll also have six to eight reserves working and our motorcycle will be out, since it can fit between the rows easier. They're just there to make sure things don't get out of hand," Merriman said.