Five days after the rest of the country celebrated Independence Day with backyard rallies, barbecues and yes, fireworks for consumers, Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed Bill 113 of the Senate.
This bill would have made Ohio the 49th state to allow consumers to legally unload fireworks.
Ohio and Massachusetts are the only two states that still have laws making it illegal to dump fireworks. You can buy them in Ohio, but legally you can’t use them.
The governor has his reasons for vetoing this common sense update to an archaic fireworks law. He and his administration misinterpret not only the bill, but what the current reality is in Ohio.
DeWine refers to two studies in his veto message; one by Battelle Labs and one by the Southwest Research Institute.
Its reference to these studies and the resulting recommendations were not included in Senate Bill 113 is dishonest at best. His conclusion that SB 113 “does not require compliance with the security measures described in these studies” is clearly wrong.
The Battelle test was very flawed and designed to test the effectiveness of a fire extinguisher system on fireworks. Sprinklers have been mandatory at Ohio fireworks stores for decades.
The Southwest study tested various mitigation techniques designed to slow the spread of a fire. In view of SB 113, all of the fireworks sections of the revised Ohio Code and NFPA 1124 (the nation’s most comprehensive fireworks code) adopted by Ohio, does is essentially all of the mitigation techniques tested by Southwest – including flame arresters, fuse covers, aisle spacing, etc. – are currently required in Ohio.
Whoever told the governor otherwise is misinformed.
Part of the southwestern study involved a steel lattice cage around the fireworks. The steel mesh cage is nothing more than a conceptual test criterion that has no real application in the country. It doesn’t exist and would require design and manufacture from scratch.
This proposal would have provided for total closure and the total absence of physical and visual access to any product on the shelves.
No suggestion was made by the administration as to how customers would even access the product. And to be clear, it is not used anywhere in the country at any retail fireworks store.
Another of the governor’s 11th hour amendments included the state fire marshal’s request for an Early Suppression Fast Response (ESFR) sprinkler. In a meeting with the state fire marshal, it was explained that this type of sprinkler system is not required by the fire code, building code or law for any location. retail (fireworks or not) all over the country, nor the water pressure necessary to operate such a system is available in most areas.
Finally, Governor DeWine’s statement that the bill would make Ohio “one of the least restrictive states when it comes to fireworks laws” is clearly wrong.
Neither Indiana nor Pennsylvania has adopted NFPA 1124, a fire prevention code for retail fireworks, unlike Ohio.
Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky allow the use of fireworks 365 days a year, and Pennsylvania is silent on the issue of local control.
Michigan and Indiana allow limited local control, but require nearly 24 days of non-local control use.
Ohio’s vetoed bill would allow complete local control, including a complete restriction on sale and use.
The sponsors understand that Ohio is a diverse state and maintains it by allowing every municipality, city and township to regulate fireworks. They may be stricter than state law and may even prohibit them altogether.
DeWine just doesn’t think Ohioans should enjoy the same patriotic freedoms 48 other states already allow.
The legislator should override the veto.
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Danial Peart is Director of Government Affairs for Phantom Fireworks.