As we approach the next major holiday during which fireworks are popular, city staff want to share with the community the state law and other factors at play in how we react to concerns and complaints.
Fireworks complaints are important, just as are traffic violations, but conditions at the time of the complaints change the Battle Creek Police Department’s ability to respond.
Other variables that affect fireworks calls are what the caller says to the 911 dispatcher, how the dispatcher prioritizes the call and, importantly, whether the callers wants contact with police, and by which means. Phone contact, for example, is fine, even the next day.
To enforce the law related to fireworks complaints, the law requires a witness, proof of the fireworks and, if outside the permitted time periods, a home owner. Fireworks may not be used in public places, including parks and schools.
This year, from July 3 to 6, we received 65 fireworks complaints. Of those, 25 happened during illegal hours. However, of these 25 complaints, 23 did not want police contact. This was beyond the 612 calls for service during this time period that did not involve fireworks.
There are two city ordinances that police can enforce, related to fireworks.
According to state law, consumer fireworks are allowed on private property, with permission, from 7 a.m. to midnight (1 a.m. for New Year’s) on the day before, day of, and day after these national holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, George Washington’s birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
To enforce the city’s noise control ordinance – a disturbance that unreasonably annoys, disturbs, does injury to, or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace, or safety of others – an officer must see someone lighting the fireworks, or must have a complainant who is willing to testify in court and identify the violator. The penalty is a $100 civil infraction.
Anyone who ignites fireworks outside of the established times and dates, may be cited for disorderly conduct. To enforce the disorderly ordinance, an officer must see someone ignite the fireworks. The penalty is a $500 civil infraction.
We wish everyone a Happy New Year!