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3News Investigates: Ringing in the New Year might look different in your neighborhood

House Bill 172 went into effect in July allowing the average Ohioan to shoot consumer-grade fireworks on holidays.

CLEVELAND — The New Year’s Eve skies will shine differently than years past.

Ohioans hold the key to how bright the skies will illuminate after a new state law allowing fireworks took effect this year.

At American Fireworks in Hudson, fireworks season is year-round. “This is definitely our second biggest, second biggest holiday,” Owner, John Sorgi, said.

This year business will blaze a little more, thanks to House Bill 172.

It was signed into law last November and in effect for the first time in July, allowing the average Ohioan to shoot consumer-grade fireworks on holidays.

“So, I mean, it's definitely something that we felt was needed because people were shooting already,” Sorgi said.

Sorgi told 3News Investigates the new law was good for business on Independence Day, bringing an estimated 25 percent new customers.

“We think we're definitely, like this month we've already seen a bigger kick than the last couple years,” Sorgi said. “And then I think we'll see a, a much bigger jump this [New Year’s] for sure.”

The fireworks industry is a money maker for certain, records show.

According to the Ohio State Fire Marshal, gross retail sales of all 1.4g consumer fireworks, required to be reported for the first time this year, between May and September retailed $53,505,861.

The law writes that Ohioans can only pop fireworks on certain holidays:

  • January 1
  • Chinese New Year’s Day
  • Cinco de Mayo
  • The last Monday in May, and the Saturday and Sunday immediately before that day
  • Juneteenth
  • The third, fourth, and fifth days of July
  • The first Friday, Saturday and Sunday before and after Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • The Saturday and Sunday before Labor Day
  • Diwali
  • New Years’ Eve

Additionally, fireworks can only be discharged between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. on those days, unless otherwise stated by a municipality.

Northeast Ohio cities and townships also have the option to opt out of the law, many of which in northeast Ohio have.

3News Investigates down with leaders from two cities: One that opted in, one that opted out.

The mayor of the densely populated suburban neighborhood Westlake, Dennis Clough said the choice to opt out came down to one thing.

“It’s more of a safety concern for us,” Clough said. “Our fire department obviously has to respond to any type of a call if there's a mishap with the fireworks. We don't want to have to be worried about that at every property in the city of Westlake. I don't know of any fire department that's in favor of that”

But about an hour south in Jackson Township the perception is one-eighty.
“We went the other angle that we're going to allow it, but we're going to educate people,” the township’s Fire Chief, Tim Berczik, said.

Berczik said the progressive approach was to alleviate the tedious enforcement hunt.

“If we didn't engage it and people were going to do it, we're going to be chasing them between our fire prevention bureau and our law enforcement, that's all we would be doing,” he said.

Even with the new law– you can still be cited.

The state fire marshal’s office, Westlake and Jackson township told 3News no one has been cited unproperly firing firearms so far this year.

“If people are [pop them], you're better to just have everyone on the same page,” Sorgi said. “And have the fire department and the local municipalities on the same page now as a huge deal.”

To read all of the Ohio fire code rules related to this law, click here.

Here are Northeast Ohio Cities to opt-out and ban fireworks:

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