Fireworks—Information for Everyone
From the September 2021 issue of the CCI London CCI Review
Every year, when the holidays that the City of London permits the use of consumer fireworks comes around, there is much discussion on social media and complaints to City Hall from residents across the City. Fireworks sparked much debate this year because there were no public fireworks displays and homeowners felt the need to stand in. Debates ramped up over changing the by-law, to consider the impact on members of our community who may suffer from disorders, on the environment and on pet health. A petition was circulated to prohibit the sale and discharge of traditional fireworks by organizations and individuals.
While there were pros and cons to the discussions, for the most part, both seemed reasonable to consider, including the fact that the period that is provided by the by-law was not followed and spanned many days in and around the holidays. We know that this particular complaint is not new.
First and foremost, it is appropriate to provide the City of London Fireworks By-law – PW-11 for your reference and education. Specifically, the occasions that the City of London permits the use of “Consumer Fireworks” is:
1.between dusk and 11:00 p.m. on Victoria Day;
2.between dusk and 11:00 p.m. on Canada Day;
3.between dusk and 11:00 p.m.:
4.on the Saturday preceding Canada Day where Canada Day falls on a Monday or Tuesday;
5.on the Saturday following Canada Day where Canada Day falls on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday;
The London Fire Department posted on social media prior to the Victoria Day holiday.
In particular, the holiday weekend in May was enlightening to say the least. “Stay-at-home” orders created issues across the city with residents in private properties like condominiums discharging fireworks, as some described, clearly not aware of the dangers that they could present.
The echo chamber that all of us who live on a condominium property are familiar with, suggested that residents were discharging fireworks on the property causing some angst among other residents.
Some also reported that there are those who will defy the law and set off fireworks on many other opportunities and likely without a permit as required. There were calls to ban the sale of and setting off fireworks altogether and called upon City Council to review the by-law before those holidays come around again.
Does Your Corporation Have a Rule About Fireworks?
The Board of Directors is responsible to make, amend or repeal rules respecting the use of comment elements and units to promote the safety, security or welfare of the owners and of the property and assets of the corporation. (Section 58 of the Condominium Act)
“Fireworks can be a great way to celebrate the holidays, but their associated risks are too high for condominiums to ignore. As a result, most condominiums prohibit owners from using them on the property, either directly with a rule that prohibits fireworks specifically or indirectly with rules that prohibit activities that are unsafe to others, likely to cause a nuisance, or likely to damage the property. A fireworks display is best left to the professionals.”
[posted on June 18, 2017 by Michelle Kelly, LL.B., ACCI from Robson Carpenter LLP]
You can find more about Canada Day Celebrations from Michelle Kelly here.
What Does Your Insurance Policy Say?
No matter how careful, there is a chance something may go wrong. Damage as a result of fireworks could lead to legal action, potential for damage to property or persons. It is important to research how to safely and legally set off fireworks because those laws are accounting for risks you might not be aware of.
Even with the appropriate insurance coverage, it may be treated as null and void if the province or municipality bans backyard fireworks and /or bans setting off fireworks on any other days of the year when a professional display fireworks company and a permit for authorizing the display is required from the City of London Fire Services.
Leave no stone unturned to protect the community before proceeding with any fireworks display.
Check local by-laws
AND WHEREAS section 7.1(1) of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c. 4, as amended provides that a council of a municipality may pass by- laws regulating fire prevention, including the prevention of spreading fires;
Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c.4
“consumer firework” means low hazard fireworks generally used for recreation, which may be classified as type F.1 explosives under the Act, including: showers, golden rain, lawn lights, pinwheels, roman candles, and volcanoes, but does not include Christmas crackers or sparklers containing less than 2 mg of explosive substance;
“discharge” means to fire, ignite, explode or set off or cause to be fired, ignited, exploded or set off and the words “discharged” and “discharging” have a similar meaning
(1) No person shall discharge consumer fireworks except:
(a) between dusk and 11:00 p.m. on Victoria Day;
(b) between dusk and 11:00 p.m. on Canada Day;
(c) between dusk and 11:00 p.m.:
(i) on the Saturday preceding Canada Day where Canada Day falls on a Monday or Tuesday;
(ii) on the Saturday following Canada Day where Canada Day falls on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday;
(d) as part of a display of display fireworks for which a permit has been obtained and for which all conditions and requirements of the permit have been met; or at such other times and such other dates as permitted by Council by by-law
(2) A person eighteen (18) years of age or older may hold a display of consumer fireworks on any land belonging to him or her or on any other privately owned land where the owner thereof has given permission for such display or discharge of fireworks.
(3) No person under the age of eighteen (18) years shall discharge any consumer fireworks except under the direct supervision of and control of a person eighteen (18) years of age or over.
(4) No person being the parent or guardian of any person under the age of eighteen (18) years shall allow the person to discharge any consumer fireworks except when such parent or guardian or some other responsible person of eighteen (18) years of age or over is in direct supervision and control.
(5) No person shall discharge any consumer fireworks in such a manner as might create danger or constitute a nuisance to any person or property, or to do or cause or allow any unsafe act or omission at the time and place for the discharging of any fireworks.
(6) No person shall discharge any consumer fireworks in or into any building, doorway, or automobile.
(7) No person shall discharge any consumer fireworks in or on or into any park, highway, street, lane, square or other public place, unless under a display fireworks permit to do so issued by the Fire Chief.
24.2 This by-law may be enforced by a police officer, a City municipal law enforcement officer, a City by-law enforcement officer, a member of City Fire Services, and any other person appointed by Council to enforce this by-law. Such persons enforcing this by-law may enter upon land and into structures at any reasonable time to inspect the land and structures to determine whether the by-law is being complied with, and any power of entry shall be in accordance with Part XIV of the Municipal Act, 2001 and the Inspections By-law.
OFFENCES AND PENALTIES
25. (1) Every person who contravenes any of the provisions of this by-law is guilty of an offence.
(2) Every person who is convicted of an offence under this by-law is liable to a fine:
(a) upon a first conviction to a maximum fine of $5,000.00;
(b) upon a subsequent conviction to a maximum fine of $10,000.00.
As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The Canada Safety Council[iv] advises reading all instructions, cautions and warnings on fireworks very carefully to ensure that you understand how to handle, set up, light properly, and dispose of, each explosive.
Generally, all unused fireworks should be stored in a closed box away from any fireworks being lit. All other open flames or sparks (from things like cigarettes or sparklers) should be far from fireworks.
Next, choose a clear, open space for your launching area. Using hard, flat and level surfaces will help ensure stability. All spectators should be a safe distance away from fireworks when being lit (see distance requirements on instructions), and children should be closely monitored. If there is any wind, it should be blowing in a direction away from spectators. Also, be sure to keep a bucket of sand, a source of water and a fire extinguisher nearby.
When it’s time to start the show, only adults (18 years of age or over) should handle fireworks, and no one who is impaired by alcohol or drugs should be permitted to manage them. Although professional fireworks displays often light multiple items at one time, backyard enthusiasts should only ever light one at a time.
The person lighting the fireworks should wear protective goggles and gloves, light the fireworks at arm’s length, and stand back. Never lean over fireworks when lighting them or hold them in your hand while they are lit. Ensure long hair is tied back and wear properly fitted clothing. Although matches or lighters are commonly used to light fireworks, open flames can be harder to control – especially when there is wind. A special smouldering stick called a “punk” can be a safer option.
Sometimes a firework fizzles or doesn’t explode. While it might be tempting to try to relight these defective fireworks again if they don’t work the first time correctly, don’t risk an accidental explosion by relighting. Instead, please stay away from these duds for five minutes (if there is an unexpected delayed explosion), soak them in water and dispose of them with other spent fireworks that have been wetted. Put them in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
While children seem to love fireworks especially, they should never handle them. Sometimes adults distribute sparklers for children to hold, thinking these are a safer alternative. Unfortunately, they burn at extremely high temperatures and cause severe burns and other injuries if mishandled. Any child under the age of 12 should be very closely supervised when playing with sparklers.
The City of London says those with noise complaints regarding fireworks can call London police’s non-emergency line at 519-661-5670.
Trish Kaplan, CCI (Hon’s) is the current part-time Administrator for the CCI-London and Area Chapter, also having served in the position from April 2003-September 2010 and was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from CCI National in November 2006.
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