State considers firework bans for Fourth to avoid fire mishaps

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Like many families, the Post family likes to follow tradition on Independence Day.

“We always love the Fourth of July. We get together with some friends and we do fireworks with the neighbors,” said Liz Post, who along with her four children were picking out items at Jake’s Fireworks in Kentwood.

They also follow the rules, keeping the kids clear of anything that could be dangerous and making sure they have a water supply nearby.

But that may not be enough insurance for the state fire marshal.

The state fire marshal is considering whether to recommend a ban on fireworks due to the extremely dry conditions.

A ban would be quite drastic, but so are conditions in several parts of the state.

Last Friday, fireworks are being blamed for setting off a grass fire along I-196 near College Avenue in Grand Rapids. It took just minutes for the fire to climb the hill towards the houses at the top. Fortunately, the Grand Rapid Fire Department made quick work of the blaze.

But the 2012 law relaxing the sale and use of fireworks says local fire chief can only issue a fireworks ban in extreme cases.

So local fire departments are relying on the state to make that decision.

“We are monitoring the situation daily,” was the answer from state Fire Marshall Julie Secontine when asked if she will issue a ban.

“Wind factor would be figured into that. Humidity, things like that. It’s really all factors coming together, but it would not be a statewide ban,” Secontine said.

Instead, any ban would target a specific area with just the right conditions for fire. Right now, that’s in southeast Michigan and the upper Lower Peninsula.

“But that can change, even during a day. We had some that were treated as extreme last week that now are not rated extreme,” Secontine said.

It could go an other way as well. So Secontine and her staff continue to watch conditions along with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and fire chiefs from across the state.

The Post family will be watching as well. Liz says if the fire marshal puts a nix on their fireworks plans they will listen, but they hope it doesn’t get to that point.

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