FAIRBORN — Fireworks are always a large part of the festivities surrounding Independence Day in the United States, but they can turn the holiday dangerous when not used properly.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, on Independence Day in a typical year, far more US fires are reported than on any other day. Fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.
“The best way to watch a good fireworks display is to go to one that’s been properly licensed and permitted like the Fourth of July fireworks we’ll have out at Community Park,” said Fairborn Fire Chief Mike Riley. “That’s the way to really enjoy fireworks in a safe manner.”
Riley said that typical fireworks injuries are ones resulting from explosions: trauma to the hands, face and chest, “when people really don’t know what they’re doing.”
Three classifications of fireworks exist under Ohio Code, only one of which is legal for Ohio citizens to set off.
Trick and novelty fireworks (sparklers, glow snakes and smoke bombs) are generally legal to buy and use anywhere in Ohio. These are the only fireworks that may be discharged without a permit or license in Ohio.
Display or exhibitor fireworks (classified as 1.3G fireworks) can only be set off by a licensed exhibitor with a local permit.
Fire crackers, bottle rockets and other “consumer fireworks” may be purchased by anyone over the age of 18 in Ohio, but the purchaser must sign a sign a form (sometimes called a “liar’s form”) saying they will transport the fireworks purchased out of the state within 48 hours. These consumer fireworks are illegal to set off in the state of Ohio.
According to the Ohio State Bar Association, first time offenders of the fireworks law are normally charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. Those who plead guilty or are convicted can be sentenced to up to six months in jail and also fined up to $1,000. A subsequent conviction is a fifth-degree felony, which could potentially be punishable by a one-year prison term.
“It’s a matter of your own personal safety just to avoid using those types of devices and just go watch a permitted pyrotechnic event,” Riley said.