Some Butler County areas will still enforce fireworks bans

Local governments across Butler County are not expected to take new action to ban private usage or possession of fireworks ahead of this year’s Fourth of July weekend.

The City of Fairfield, however, has prohibited fireworks for decades, and the city’s Law Director Steve Wolterman said the rule still stands.

Unless permitted, “No person shall discharge, ignite or explode any fireworks in this municipality,” Wolterman said while quoting the ordinance.

The state law signed by Governor Mike DeWine in 2021 allows adult Ohioans to buy and possess fireworks and even set them off on designated holidays. The law also gave local governments the ability to further restrict dates and times that fireworks may be used, or to outlaw the use of fireworks entirely.

Wolterman said there was a “split opinion” on whether or not local governments need to pass new legislation in order to extend old bans. “There are some communities that had these laws that went ahead and passed replacements,” Wolterman said. “We weren’t changing anything, so we didn’t feel the need to.”

Similarly, Middletown is not changing anything leading up to Independence Day. Missy Knight, a spokesperson for the City of Middletown, said the city will allow the use of fireworks on designated holidays.

“Our policy currently follows the Ohio Revised Code,” Knight said. “Since Ohio Revised Code changes July 1, we will continue following Ohio Revised Code unless Middletown City Council changes that for the future.”

This Independence Day will be the first of nine designated holidays under the new state law. Ohioans are able to legally set off consumer-grade fireworks for the entirety of the holiday weekend.

Under previous law, Ohioans were allowed to purchase fireworks but were legally obligated to take them outside the state within 48 hours of the purchase and were not able to set fireworks off in the state without a permit.

Butler County Sheriff Chief Anthony Dwyer said he doesn’t expect the new Ohio law to change the sheriff’s enforcement, although there might be more noise complaints if more Butler County residents are setting off fireworks.

“During the holidays — obviously the Fourth of July and New Year’s Day — we have a lot of fireworks complaints. More than we can probably handle,” Dwyer said. “It’s almost impossible to respond to every call on Fourth of July when people set fireworks off.”

Now that fireworks are technically legal to be set off in Butler County, the sheriff’s dispatch center will be more acutely focused on sifting through complaints regarding safety, and not just noise.

Dwyer said that even though the usage of fireworks might increase, the ability to police the situation effectively might be improved by the new law.

“It always has been a challenge,” Dwyer said. “This will hopefully codify some more specifics and make it a little bit easier.”

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