“Yes, we have the new stuff, and our sales have increased tremendously,” said William Sauter of Muskegon. “And the weather doesn’t hurt.”
Sauter is manning the TNT Fireworks tent in the parking lot of the Meijer store in Grand Haven Township. He is a volunteer for Living Word Church of Muskegon, which is using its share of the proceeds from fireworks sales to fund church programs and missions.
Sales started June 22 at the tent. The most popular items have been the mortars, Roman candles and bottle rockets, Sauter said.
Mortars come in several styles and are coded with numbers 1-4 according to color, height and noise. “A 4 means it is the biggest, highest and loudest,” Sauter said.
The mortars are loaded into tubes, and then lit with a fuse, which Sauter said was up to 8 inches long.
Sauter said he’s fielded a lot of questions about when and where people can shoot these fireworks.
“I just tell them it’s more or less a 'respect your neighbors' kind of thing,” he said. “Mortars mostly burn themselves up, but bottle rockets and spinners have stuff that comes down. Clean up after yourself.”
The Living Word Church is also manning tents outside Meijer stores on Henry and Harvey streets in the Muskegon area, and another at The Lakes Mall.
Safety and noise concerns
Since the state's Fireworks Safety Act of 2011 went into effect Jan. 2, many local officials have been discussing what, if any, ordinance changes should be made to help regulate the aerial devices.
Spring Lake and Ferrysburg will follow the state law, for now, officials said.
“We are monitoring the situation,” said Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Chief Roger DeYoung.
DeYoung said the department has been getting a few complaints a week about fireworks, but most of them are unfounded or officers are unable to locate the source.
“We have not had a big problem,” he said. “I feel we could still arrest them for disturbing the peace if they are bothering other community members.”
Grand Haven City Council will discuss an ordinance amendment on Monday, said City Manager Pat McGinnis.
“The ordinance will likely permit fireworks on national holidays (per statute) and Coast Guard Saturday,” McGinnis said. “Otherwise, we are concerned about fire hazard, noise complaints, and the impact loud and excessive celebrations might have on people’s pets, veterans of foreign wars and the public peace in general. I expect a complete discussion and debate at Monday night’s council meeting and interested citizens are encouraged to attend.”
Spring Lake Township Manager Gordon Gallagher said the township would also be following state law.
“It should be noted that we do have a noise ordinance that will apply in significant nuisance situations,” he said. “People should remember that they are responsible if they should happen to start a fire.”
Gallagher said people are encouraged to be extra vigilant this year due to the dry conditions and the expanded fireworks law.
The National Weather Service issued a "red flag" fire weather warning on Wednesday. This means critical fire weather conditions are occurring or will be shortly.
“A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create explosive fire growth potential," the weather bureau explained. "Be careful with any activities that could potentially lead to a wildfire. Camping, outdoor grills, smoking materials, chain saws and all-terrain vehicles all have the potential to throw a spark and ignite a dangerous and destructive fire.”
Fireworks can also be a safety hazard to those igniting them, or observing them, said Capt. Brian Sipe of the Spring Lake Township Fire Department. In 2010, nearly 8,800 Americans were seen in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, he said.
It’s important to realize that the tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees, which can result in third-degree burns, Sipe said.
Information on fireworks products and safety may be obtained at the following websites:
www.michigan.gov/bfs (Michigan Bureau of Fire Services)
Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities.
Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.