Fireworks laws and safety issues addressed by GFD
As the July 4 holiday nears, the thunder and lightning of personal fireworks increases and local officials and residents alike have taken notice.
In fact, at the recent June Greencastle City Council meeting, Fire Chief Bill Newgent was asked to explain basic state fireworks regulations after a local woman complained of her neighbors' annual abuse of fireworks laws and expressed concern about other peoples' property being damaged in the process.
She said last year the fireworks onslaught began on Thursday afternoon and lasted through the holiday on Sunday.
"The law states," Chief Newgent said, "that any fireworks that go up into the air must come down on your property.
"Now that's pretty hard to enforce," he reasoned, "but that's how the state law is written."
Both Newgent and City Attorney Laurie Hardwick urged residents to call 911 and file a complaint about any misuse of fireworks seen or heard in their areas.
Hardwick said not only are state regulations in play but after 10 p.m., the local noise ordinance also is in force.
"Call 911," Police Chief Tom Sutherlin interjected, "and we'll come out and enforce the law."
The problem, of course, is when a resident does make a complaint, more likely than not the offender or offenders are gone by the time authorities arrive, so it is difficult to enforce.
The main thing, city officials pointed out, is to be safe and responsible if you do use fireworks to celebrate the holiday.
The difference between local residents putting on an impromptu private show and the organized community fireworks celebration at Robe-Ann Park -- set for dusk (approximately 10 p.m.) Saturday, July 4 with a July 5 rain date -- is that the park program is a commercial display that has been issued a proper state permit, Chief Newgent noted.
Meanwhile, the Greencastle Fire Department has issued a reminder to Putnam County residents about the dangers of fireworks and what is and isn't allowed for private use in the state of Indiana.
GFD Safety Officer Christy Glass offered information on state laws and safety reminders as follows:
How have Indiana's fireworks laws changed in recent years?
* In addition to Section 8 (a) (i.e. sparklers, ground spinners, cone fountains, wheels, cylindrical fountains), consumer fireworks (i.e. bottle rockets, roman candles, and firecrackers) are legal to discharge in the state.
* Only individuals 18 years of age or older may purchase fireworks.
* Anyone under the age of 18 may possess or use a firework only in the presence of an adult.
* On Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day and New Year's Eve, fireworks may be discharged from 9 a.m. to midnight. Any other day of the year, fireworks may be discharged from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. It is important, however, to check with local officials as local ordinances may restrict usage.
* Fireworks may be discharged only on your property, the property of someone who has granted permission to discharge firework, or at special discharge locations.
* Fireworks retailers must have a permit from the Indiana state fire marshal to sell consumer fireworks. All firework retail locations must undergo an inspection by either a representative of the Indiana State Fire Marshal or the local fire department
* The five-percent public safety fee now assessed on the sale of fireworks funds the Indiana Disaster Relief Fund and the Indiana Firefighter Training System.
* Penalties are now in place for violation of Indiana's fireworks laws.
Fireworks Safety Tips
* Never let children handle, play with, or light any fireworks.
* Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
* Always purchase your fireworks from reliable, licensed fireworks dealers.
* Use a clear, open area. Keep audience a safe distance away from the shooting site.
* Safety glasses are recommended for those individuals lighting fireworks or those in close proximity to the fireworks.
* Do not alter any fireworks device or make your own fireworks.
* Only light one firework item at a time.
* Never attempt to relight, alter or fix any "dud" firework item.
* Have a fire extinguisher, water supply, hose or bucket of water nearby.
* Be cautious of lighting any fireworks during strong wind conditions and light fireworks with prevailing wind blowing away from the spectators.
* Never smoke when handling fireworks.
* Never aim, point or throw fireworks at another person.
* Use fireworks outdoors, never indoors.
Penalties for Violating Indiana's Fireworks Laws:
* A person who ignites, discharges or uses consumer fireworks at a site other than: (a) a special discharge location; (b) the property of
the person; or (c) the property of another who has given permission to use the consumer fireworks; commits a Class C infraction that may result in a fine up to $500 per infraction.
− On the second violation within five years, the person commits a Class C misdemeanor, an offense punishable by imprisonment of not more than 60 days and a fine of no more than $500.
* A person less than 18 years of age who possesses or uses a firework when an adult is not present and responsible at the location commits a Class C infraction that may result in a fine of up to $500 per infraction.
− On the second violation within five years, the person commits a delinquent act under IC-31-37.
* A person who ignites, discharges or uses consumer fireworks: (a) after 11 p.m., except on a holiday or Dec. 31, on which dates consumer fireworks may not be ignited, discharged or used after midnight; or (b) before 9 a.m. commits a Class C infraction that may result in a fine of up to $500 per infraction.
− On the second violation within five years the person commits a Class C misdemeanor, an offense punishable by imprisonment of not more than 60 days and a fine of not more than $500.
* A person who recklessly, knowingly or intentionally uses consumer fireworks and the violation causes harm to the property of a person commits a Class A misdemeanor, an offense punishable by imprisonment for up to one year and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
* A person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally uses consumer fireworks and the violation results in serious bodily injury to a person commits a Class D felony, an offense punishable by imprisonment from six months to three years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
* A person who recklessly, knowingly or intentionally uses consumer fireworks and the violation results in the death of a person commits a Class C felony, an offense punishment by imprisonment from two to eight and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
* A person who knowingly or intentionally fails to collect or remit to the State of Indiana the public safety fee due commits a Class D felony, an offense punishable by imprisonment from six months to three years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.