Lawmakers looking to lift Ohio’s ban on personal use of fireworks

CLEVELAND - It is one of the sounds of the summer.

But for every professional fireworks display there are perhaps hundreds of smaller displays in every neighborhood.

Right now it is illegal for the average person to shoot off what's called "consumer grade" fireworks in Ohio.

Things like roman candles, fountains and firecrackers fall into this category

And these are the things you see being shot off in many neighborhoods every Fourth of July.

Lawmakers say a statewide fireworks ban is just not working.

“We can pass laws till the cow jumps over the moon or until we're blue in the face but the ability for the law to be enforced is a key component of good legislation.” Ohio District 14 Representative Martin Sweeney said. Sweeney is one of the co-sponsors of House Bill 226.

It's calling for a set of key guidelines including:

  • Allowing the use of consumer grade fireworks on personal property or with permission from the property owner.
  • Forbidding people from shooting off fireworks if they've been drinking or doing drugs
  • Fireworks sellers must stock safety goggles and either give them for free or offer for sale at a minimum price and stock safety guides
  • A four percent fee will be charged at the retail level that will go for firefighter training & enforcement and inspection of fireworks manufacturers and sellers.

Sweeney says this would standardize laws around the state and at the same time give municipalities flexibility.

“If the City of Cleveland says they don't want to have fireworks or they only want to have them on July Fourth or all year around under these guidelines, this legislation addresses that." Sweeney said.

But physicians are concerned that lifting a ban would be a bad idea considering the harm that fireworks can do.

Doctor Anjay Khandelwal of Metro Health Medical Center says severe burns, eye injuries, and broken bones are part of the injuries they see every year. He says he hopes lawmakers look carefully at the potential health costs.

“There is a distinctly likelihood of sustaining an injury. It's not because of something we're doing, but things we can't necessarily control. The thing with fireworks is we need to leave them to the experts don't take the risk.” Dr. Khandelwal said

If the bill passes, a study group made up of industry, lawmakers, the state fire marshal and medical professionals would be tasked to draft legislation that would go into effect in 2020.