Inside Jake's Fireworks, a fireworks "megastore" on 28th Street in Kentwood.
(DETROIT FREE PRESS) - The change in state law allowing more powerful pyrotechnics didn't bring an overall surge in fireworks-related injuries on the Fourth of July in metro Detroit.
For the most part, hospitals reported that injuries were normal for this time of year. Public safety officials also reported an average number of police and fire runs.
Six children were hospitalized with fireworks-related injuries Wednesday at Children's Hospital of Michigan compared with two children last year, said Vickie Winn, a spokeswoman at the hospital, which is part of the Detroit Medical Center.
Emergency room visits at the hospital thus far equal the total number of hospitalizations from last year alone, she said.
Despite a mostly normal Fourth of July, there were problems as public safety officials pondered how to interpret the state law in the face of noise complaints.
Warren Deputy Police Commissioner Louis Galasso said that the way the law is written, police are not able to enforce local noise ordinances for a 72-hour period when it comes to fireworks.
"The state law trumps out the noise ordinance. We're limited as to what we can enforce," he said.
In Warren, police responded to 46 complaints during the afternoon shift and 16 on the midnight shift, Galasso said. Four violations were written.
"The amount of complaints were probably consistent with years past," he said.
Personally, however, he observed that there was a greater incidence and magnitude of fireworks this year, he said. He said he believes there were not as many complaints because residents are familiar with what the new law allows.
"If what occurred last night had occurred last year," Galasso said, "I believe our call volume would have been double."
Sara Wurfel, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder, said the governor's office received about 500 calls and e-mails about the new law in the last few days -- most of them complaints about excessive noise.
Snyder, for whom reform of Michigan fireworks law was not a priority, is willing to consider changes, Wurfel said.
"The law does not define a time limit or nothing like that, so they can basically shoot off 72 hours straight," said Taylor Fire Marshal John Hager.
In his city, one man was injured at 10 p.m. Wednesday by a powerful firework. He was taken to Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center for treatment.
Scott Spielman, spokesman for Oakwood Healthcare, said the man required surgery on a hand and was released from the hospital Thursday.
Other people also were injured by the more powerful fireworks. At Oakwood Annapolis Hospital in Wayne, one female patient sustained second-degree burns on her forearm as a result of sparks from a Roman candle that caught on her shirt, and one man sustained second-degree burns on his hand from a mortar incident, Spielman said. Both were treated and released.
Injuries also were reported at Beaumont Hospital in Troy. Bob Ortlieb, spokesman for the hospital, said there were six injuries, of which four were adults and two were children.
"Most were minor sparkler burns, and some people had debris that fell into their eyes," he said, adding that two had burns on their faces.
The move to allow bottle rockets, Roman candles and other powerful fireworks to be sold in the state was about revenue.
On Thursday, state officials said it was too early to assess whether the liberalized fireworks law had achieved its primary goal of generating economic activity and tax revenue that had previously gone to neighboring Indiana and Ohio.
Before the law was enacted by overwhelming majorities in the Legislature, estimates of the amount of new revenue it would generate from tax and licensing fees ranged as high as $14 million a year.
Wurfel said there were more than 700 certificates to sell so-called consumer fireworks under the new law. Retailers paid between $600 and $1,000 for the certificates.
Detroit Free Press