COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill on Monday that will allow fireworks to legally be set off by residents on certain holidays while placing some restrictions on fireworks showrooms and prohibiting fireworks use while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The previous law allowed consumers to purchase and possess consumer-grade fireworks but requires consumers to transport them out of state within 48 hours.
For industry leaders, like American Fireworks Company in Hudson, the new law is explosive news.
"We’ve been fighting to get this legalized for two decades now," said Sabrina Nickels, the sales manager for American Fireworks.
Nickels said they tell people what the current law is when they purchase their items.
"They’d say 'when can I do this?' and we’d make them aware of the law and what they could and could not do and people made their own decisions from there," she said.
The new law casts a bright light on how Ohio turned a blind eye to fireworks usage on 4th of July.
"Everybody knows that, pretty much, people were setting fireworks off no matter what. This decriminalizes that," said TJ Martin of Parma Fire Department.
He said he is encouraged by the law because he, too, likes fireworks. But he is worried it could create an uptick in accidents and injuries caused by fireworks.
"It becomes a danger when people misuse them. People need to use common sense when they're doing this," said Martin.
Local governments will also be allowed to ban fireworks or designate when they can be shot off.
"In more densely populated areas, it would almost be ridiculous to allow fireworks to be set off because you have a dense population with homes right next to each other," he said. "It would be a fire hazard."
House Bill 172 will allow fireworks to be set off on the days around July 4, Diwali and New Year’s Eve, over Memorial and Labor Day weekends, and on New Year’s Day, Juneteenth, Cinco De Mayo, and the Lunar New Year.
DeWine signed Amended Substitute House Bill 172 as a compromise after he vetoed Senate Bill 113 earlier this year.
"Amended Substitute House Bill 172 is a better bill than Senate Bill 113, which was the original fireworks bill that I vetoed," DeWine said. "Because it was clear to me that the legislature would have overridden my veto, making Senate Bill 113 the law, I worked with the General Assembly to arrive at a compromise that included changes I wanted to see in the legislation."
DeWine said that the amended bill limits the discharge of fireworks to more traditional holidays that Ohioans celebrate while recognizing numerous culturally-diverse holidays. The bill also addresses safety concerns at buildings where fireworks are displayed and sold, and concerns the governor had about Ohio residents handling fireworks while under the influence.
"The compromise bill also reduces, by half, the allowable increase in showroom size originally offered in Senate Bill 113, while requiring enhanced fire sprinkler systems," DeWine said. "The measure further prohibits the discharge of fireworks while in possession of, or under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances or on another person’s property without that person’s permission."
"I appreciate the General Assembly addressing concerns I enumerated in the veto of Senate Bill 113 and incorporating most of them into House Bill 172," DeWine said.