Up until 2012, Michigan was one of a large group of states that banned consumer fireworks in favor of “Safe and Sane” fireworks. In other words, unless you were specifically licensed to put on a public fireworks display, the only legal fireworks in Michigan were ground-based devices, hand-held sparklers, or novelty fireworks like snakes, Party Poppers, and snaps. While you could legally buy Roman candles, bottle rockets or firecrackers in nearby states, you couldn't legally set them off in Michigan.
Ban Lifted on Fireworks in Michigan
The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act 256 of 2011 changed all that by greatly expanding the fireworks available for sale and use in the state. These days, in addition to low-impact fireworks and novelty items, legal fireworks in Michigan include aerial fireworks and firecrackers. According to Fireworks in Michigan published by LARA, the consumer fireworks now legal to sell and use in Michigan include:
- Bottle rockets
- Sky rockets
- Reloadable shell devices
- Roman candles
- Missile-type rockets
- Helicopter/Aerial spinners
- Single tube device with report
It's All About the Money, Money, Money
The main reason the number and type of legal fireworks in Michigan were expanded was to increase state revenue. In addition to the increased sales tax generated from the sale of fireworks in Michigan (versus out of state), the state imposed a 6% safety fee collected by vendors and earmarked for the training of firefighters. Vendors also pay application fees to obtain a Consumer Fireworks Certificate, a permit/license to sell consumer fireworks.
Using Fireworks in Michigan
You have to be 18 or older to buy fireworks and you cannot use them while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If you are 18 years of age or older, you can buy consumer fireworks from a vendor in a permanent structure or “tent” who displays a Consumer Fireworks Safety Certificate. Note: You are legally prohibited from smoking inside or within 50 feet of a retail sales area.
You can not use fireworks on public or school property. If you use fireworks on private property, you must do so with the permission of the property owner.
Local Government Restrictions/Regulation
While local governments have the authority under the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act to restrict or regulate the use of fireworks within their borders, they were originally banned from enacting ordinances that affected the sale or use of consumer fireworks on the days immediately surrounding a holiday. In other words, state law trumped local law regarding fireworks 35 days out of the year.
A June 2013 amendment to the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, however, gives local governments a bit more power. They are now allowed to restrict the use of fireworks during the nighttime hours on holidays and the days immediately surrounding them. Depending on the size of the local municipality, it can restrict usage of fireworks from midnight or 1 AM to 8 AM. The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act also authorizes a local government to impose a fine of up to $500 per violation.
The legalization of consumer fireworks certainly gives Michigan more buck for the bang, but what is the fallout? According to an article in the Detroit Free Press, the lifting of the ban on consumer fireworks has not resulted in any significant increase in firework-related injuries in Metro Detroit – at least surrounding the 2012 July 4th holiday. That being said, over 40% of fireworks injuries reported nationally result from consumer fireworks (those banned in Michigan prior to the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act). Note: the percentage may be higher because 29% of the fireworks injuries reported were from an unspecified firework.
Sparklers account for the greatest percentage of fireworks injuries reported nationally from any one type of firework (17%). Reloadable shells (14%) and firecrackers (13%) also top the list. 46% of fireworks injuries are to hands and fingers. 40% of fireworks injuries are suffered by people aged 25 to 44. 68% of fireworks injuries are suffered by men, who are most injured by firecrackers, sparklers, bottle rockets, novelty devices, Roman candles, and reloadable shells.