Sylvania Police and Fire officials address illegal fireworks use
Chief Michael Ramm
“I would bet this is going to be the loudest and busiest Fourth of July weekend we’ve had in several years,” said Chief Mike Ramm, of the Sylvania Township Fire Department. “It's a fireworks weekend, and now that none of the big shows are going on, people still want to see fireworks. They're going to purchase them and shoot them off.”
Chief Ramm shared that he is most concerned about the safety aspect of the illegal fireworks issue.
“The last thing we need is some getting hurt or killed from it,” the Chief emphasized. “A lot of times, it's not the person who’s shooting it off that gets hurt or their property damaged. I say, leave it to the professionals.
Chief Ramm has personal, as well as professional, reasons for disliking illegal fireworks use.
“I have a hate for them. My dad’s cousin lost a hand to an M100,” Chief Ramm explained. “As a kid we were never allowed to touch fireworks, because my dad had that bad injury in his family. It was forty years ago, but my children have never played with them, I’ve never played with them. We always went to one of the big shows and let the professionals do them.”
Chief Ramm also said that he is realistic about this year’s situation, however, with no fireworks shows in the area for people to attend.
“We’re not gonna stop them. We only have “X” amount of police officers. They're going to be busy, the fire department will be busy,” Chief Ramm continued. “If you are going to do it, do it responsibly. Do it in an open area, not in your neighborhoods. The last thing you want to do is burn down your neighbor’s house!”
Sylvania’s law enforcement officers are also watching the situation.
“It always increases around the Fourth of July, on the weekends and around the holiday,” said Lieutenant Sarah Toth of the Sylvania Township Police Department.
“If someone is complaining that their neighbor is setting off fireworks, we do respond and check it out. A lot of times we don't actually catch people in the process of doing it,” Lt. Toth explained. “If we do, we don’t normally arrest for it. We try in every instance, where it's possible and it's appropriate, to give a warning first. If we get repeated calls to a place, or there are extenuating circumstances, we can confiscate the fireworks, and we can file a charge on that.”
Lt. Toth said that the result would most likely be an appearance in court and a fine.
“But most people, when we tell them we've got complaints about the noise and setting off fireworks, most people are very compliant,” Lt. Toth was quick to add. “They say ‘Okay, sorry about that,’ and we don’t usually have a continuation of the issue. But there is a lot of risk that comes along with this. Something could go awry, hit something else, cause damage, or prematurely explode and injure someone.”
Captain Dani Miller of the City of Sylvania Police Division, echoed her counterpart's sentiments. When asked about her main concern with illegal fireworks she emphatically responded, “Safety!”
Currently the laws regarding fireworks use are being debated at the state level. House Bill 253 and Senate Bill 72, both pending in the Ohio Legislature, would legalize discharging consumer fireworks such as bottle rockets, firecrackers, Roman candles, etc. on private property.
“It's a tough call, to allow people to do it or not allow them to do it,” observed Chief Ramm, who sits on the Ohio Fire Chiefs Board. “Our legislative committee is keeping a close eye on it.”
Whether the laws change or not, the Sylvania Fire Chief’s opinion about fireworks is not likely to be affected.
“Go ahead and have a party, you don’t have to have fireworks,” Chief Ramm said. “There are other things you can do. I hope everyone has a healthy, safe Fourth of July weekend. Just be smart, that’s my thing. Be smart.”
To make a complaint about illegal fireworks use, the police department suggests that you call the non-emergency phone line and unless it is also an emergency situation.
-Contact City of Sylvania, non-emergency Police #: (419) 885-8925
-Contact Sylvania Township non-emergency Police #: (419) 882-2055
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Safety Guidelines from Phantom Fireworks
For those who do choose to set off fireworks, please observe the safety measures below from Phantom Fireworks:
To insure the safety of both the audience and those lighting the fireworks, we recommend that you obey the following fireworks safety measures during your fireworks display.
-Never let children handle, play with or light any fireworks. Only adults should handle and light the fireworks. The fireworks are great family fun and entertainment, but they do burn very hot and are intended to be handled only by adults.
-Please do not consume any alcohol when handling and lighting fireworks. Fireworks must be used only by individuals who act in a responsible manner and who are not impaired by alcohol, drugs or in any way. Impairment increases the possibility of misuse and injury to yourself or others.
-Follow your local and state laws regarding the possession and use of fireworks, and use good common sense at all times in handling fireworks. Read all directions, cautions, labels and warnings on each individual fireworks item to understand the product performance and hazards associated with the use of the item before you use it. Use only those fireworks permitted under the laws of your state or local jurisdiction in which you will be using the fireworks. If your state of local areas have shooters’ sites, use them. Never attempt to procure or use professional 1.3G display fireworks with the proper permitting, license, insurance and approved shooting site.
-Purchase your fireworks from a reliable, licensed dealer in your state. Licensed and reliable dealers will only carry products that meet the standards set and enforced by the U.S. Consumer Product Commission and that are tested for compliance. Do not use illegal explosives; do not alter any fireworks device; and do not attempt to make your own fireworks.
-Always use fireworks on a hard, flat and level surface to insure the stability of the items. This is particularly important when using the taller items that produce a thrust upon ignition. Grass, gravel and sand surfaces are not suitable for any item intended to be used in an upright position. If you are using fireworks on grass, gravel or sand, Phantom recommends that you lay down a strong piece of plywood for use as your hard, flat shooting surface.
-You must do what you can to insure the stability of the items as you use them. Place bricks on either side of an aerial repeater, tube and tall fountain to avoid “tip over.” Alternatively, you can bury your items half the height in the ground or in a bucket or pail filled with earth or sand. This will help stabilize the item during performances.
-Always keep the audience (particularly children) a safe distance from the launch or shooting site. Light the fireworks in a clear, open area away from buildings, vehicles overhead obstructions and shrubbery. A minimum clear distance of 35 feet for fountains and other ground-based items and 150 feet for aerial items is recommended. You should avoid lighting your fireworks in any area where there is dry grass, dry brush or any flammable items that could catch fire. Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers. Always use fireworks outdoors.
-Never put your head or any part of your body over the top of any fireworks product at any time. Never look into a tube to check on the firework item. Never hold a lighted firework in your hand. Keep as far from the fireworks as possible when lighting it, and get clear of the products as quickly as possible after ignition.
-Always light fireworks products with an extended butane lighting device, a Phantom Pyro-Torch, a punk or a flare. Light the fuse only on the tip. Position yourself as far from the product as possible and extend your arm out using the extended lighting device. This method of lighting will keep you as far as possible from the fireworks item. Use a flashlight at night so you can see the fuse. Never use a lantern or other flame-producing device near fireworks for illumination or any other purpose. Light the fireworks product and get away quickly. Respect the fireworks products; if used improperly, they can be dangerous.
-Light only one firework item at a time. Certain products when ignited together, like sparklers, will have a tendency to flare up in an uncontrollable and dangerous manner.
-Don’t persist with malfunctioning items. Never attempt to re-light, alter or fix any “dud” firework item. If a fireworks item fails to function when ignited, let it stand for at least 5 minutes, then douse it with water. The item failed to function for a good reason, so if you then attempt to relight it in a manner not intended, you compound the problem and can create a dangerous situation. Dispose of the item properly. You can always return the item to Phantom Fireworks for a replacement, no questions asked.
-Have an accessible fire extinguisher, water supply, hose or bucket of water nearby for emergencies. A connected hose is best. During any fireworks shoot there should always be one individual assigned as the fireman, whose sole job it is to be at the ready, watch the trajectories of the fireworks and be alert with a water source for emergencies. Having a fireman is especially important during dry conditions or when there is dried grass or brush in any close proximity to the shooting site.
-Be cautious of lighting any fireworks during strong wind conditions. Light fireworks with the prevailing wind blowing away from the spectators. If there is a wind shift during the time you are lighting your fireworks, you should rearrange your shooting site to accommodate---- the wind shift or stop the shooting until the wind subsides.
-Use care in handling fireworks and be careful not to drop them. Do not carry fireworks in your pocket. Never smoke when handling fireworks. It is preferable to keep the fireworks in a closed container before you are ready to ignite them.
-It is important to use great care with fireworks not being used that are in the vicinity of your launch zone. Sparks from active fireworks can ignite idle fireworks and cause injury. Cover unused fireworks or put them in a sealed container to prevent sparks from active fireworks inadvertently igniting the idle ones.
-Never use fireworks as weapons. Never aim, point or throw any fireworks at another person or at any property.
-Store fireworks in a dry place away and secure from children. Dispose of fireworks properly. Dispose of them by thoroughly dousing them with water, then placing them in a sealed metal trash container keeping the trash container outdoors. Never store spent fireworks indoors.
-Use fireworks outdoors under safe conditions. Never use fireworks indoors.
-Safety glasses are recommended for individuals lighting fireworks and those individuals in close proximity to the fireworks.
-Never use a wet or damaged shell or launch tube. Insert shell all the way into the bottom of the tube, flat end down, arrow pointing up. Never force a shell into a tube. Use only one shell in a tube at a time. Wait at least 30 seconds after ignition before loading another shell in the launch tube. Never ignite a shell outside of a launch tube. Never take the shell apart. Never relight a fuse that fails to ignite the device. After lighting the fuse, move a minimum of 20 feet from the launch tube.
-Please be considerate of your pets and animals when using fireworks. Noise and lights of fireworks often frighten some, so it is important that you are watchful over your pets and animals. You may want to move or keep animals away from the fireworks or inside during your display. Playing music or the T.V. can help to distract the animals from the fireworks noise.
-It is a violation of federal aviation law to transport any fireworks device or novelty on an airplane. Please respect the law and do not attempt to carry fireworks onto an airplanes or transport them in your luggage.
-Phantom Fireworks wants you and your family to have a fun and enjoyable experience with your consumer fireworks, and the only way to insure that safe experience is to follow all of the safety rules. Please use your consumer fireworks safely.
-Please remember fireworks safety every time you use fireworks.
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