Happy Fourth of July!

I know we are all looking forward to our first “normal” holiday in quite some time.  My family comes together annually to celebrate Independence Day with as much gusto as any other holiday of the year, and I’m sure this will be a special one. Being outdoors in the warm summer weather enriches our family time together like no other! This year’s holiday will be an especially well-deserved bonus for everyone.

I thought I would address an issue that has once again surfaced related to the Independence Day holiday. As I have asked the Common Council to address the issue of consumer fireworks, a further explanation would be useful.

Fireworks have always been a very important part of our Independence Day celebration. From the magnificent professional fireworks displays to sparklers, and everything else in-between, most would agree that fireworks are a very traditional element of our holiday celebration.

The issue I wish to discuss today focuses on the safe and responsible use of consumer fireworks.

As every year, our annual appeal is for the safe use of fireworks. We ask all to be careful and avoid personal injuries or property damage from fire and/or explosions.  Our firefighters and emergency medical technicians can vouch for the many unfortunate mishaps they deal with every year from the careless use of consumer fireworks.

Equally important is the responsible use of fireworks. We are continually asked to address a significant number of complaints we receive from families and individuals in neighborhoods with small children and those with specific sleep schedules dictated by work. The untimely use of fireworks can create significant disruption of sleep in those situations.

There is an additional concern that has been raised. At a recent City Council meeting, a local resident spoke in favor of restricting the use of fireworks in our community by creation of a local ordinance.  This individual was a military veteran who defended our country honorably in a foreign conflict. As a result of his involvement in this conflict, he suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The loud, nearby explosions from fireworks instigate and aggravate his symptoms. We have heard the same concern from others.

I have asked our Common Council to propose a local solution to the aforementioned complaints. This could potentially limit the dates and times when consumer fireworks could be used in our city.

Several years ago, our Indiana state legislature tried to strike a balance of these concerns by allowing municipalities (and counties if desired) the ability to regulate the use of consumer fireworks by passing Indiana Code 22-11-14-10.5. While it gives local units of government the ability to set local restrictions on the use of consumer fireworks, it also mandated that the following dates and times may not be eliminated.  Consumer fireworks must be allowed by state statute between the hours of 10 a.m. and midnight on July 4, between the hours of 5 p.m. and two hours after sunset from June 29 through July 3 and July 5 through July 9, and between the hours of 10 a.m. on Dec. 31 and 1 a.m. on Jan. 1.

We welcome public discussion as we look for a good community solution.

Please have a fun, safe Fourth of July!