The nightly loud booms in Dayton from illegal fireworks are upsetting some residents, and police officials are very worried that unless the activity stops people could get hurt and property could be damaged or go up in flames.
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Fireworks are very dangerous and can lead to fires and severe injuries, including a death earlier this year, said Dayton police Lt. Jason Hall, commander of the violent crime bureau.
Fireworks also are irking many residents who say the loud booms are disrupting their sleep, scaring their animals or loved ones and shaking their windows, doors and walls.
“We’ve always had a fireworks problem in Dayton, it’s just a lot bigger this year,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.
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On Wednesday, the Dayton City Commission passed a resolution that asks city residents to cease firing illegal and unsafe fireworks.
The resolution also urges Ohio lawmakers to reject legislation that passed the Ohio House that would allow consumer-grade fireworks to be set off on private property inside the state, day or night.
Mayor Whaley said fireworks are a public safety threat and the city commission will pass new legislation banning fireworks use if state lawmakers decide to allow their possession and discharge.
But the proposed state law’s chances of passing took a big hit this week when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he opposes removing state restrictions on fireworks for safety reasons.
Under state law, consumer-grade fireworks must be transported out of state within 48 hours of purchase, though some buyers live in Ohio and don’t comply with this requirement and set them off illegally, officials say.
Dayton has seen a large increase in fireworks complaints, which started earlier in the year than normal, around late May, said police Lt. Hall.
Fireworks tend to be an issue in the weeks leading up to and after the Fourth of July.
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Fireworks can lead to significant injury and property damage, and fireworks disposal is the leading cause of injury among bomb-disposal technicians nationwide, said Hall, who is commander of the Dayton bomb squad.
In January, a woman died a few days after she was badly injured when she attempted to light a commercial firework in her vehicle and it detonated in her lap, Hall said.
On June 8, a commercial-grade firework detonated next to an apartment complex on Danner Avenue, shattering windows and causing other damage, he said.
In July 2018, a 38-year-old man was pulled from burning vehicle and suffered lifelong injuries after a commercial shell detonated in his car on Delphos Avenue.
“These are extremely, extremely dangerous devices,” Hall said.
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Some residents in East Dayton believe people are shooting off both consumer-grade (1.4g) fireworks and some commercial-grade products (1.3g), which cannot be purchased legally except by licensed professional exhibitors.
In Ohio, discharging consumer-grade fireworks like bottle rockets, firecrackers and roman candles is a first-degree misdemeanor. Discharging commercial-grade fireworks without the proper license is a third-degree felony.
Hall said no one knows for sure why fireworks are being set off more frequently this year.
Some people believe it could be that the coronavirus lockdown and limited leisure and entertainment activities contributed to increased interest.
Another theory is that people are setting off fireworks because many local fireworks displays have been cancelled because of the pandemic to avoid attracting large crowds.
Citizens can report fireworks violations by calling 937-333-COPS.