We recently had a citizen of Sidney, Maine issue a fireworks complaint and request that the town implement an ordinance. As a newly elected representative I am still learning a lot of new language, processes and the order of things. As I did my research on fireworks laws it occurred to me that it might be helpful to share some information I have learned in particular about fireworks laws in Maine and ordinances in general.
Some townsfolk I talked to seemed to think that UNLESS there is a local ordinance there are no rules to be followed. This is not true. A local ordinance is a piece of legislation that may be adopted by a town, city or municipality that is in addition to (i.e. often more strict than) state and federal laws. In other words, if a town does not have a specific ordinance in place, then the laws and rules around an issue are governed by state law, which is often stricter than federal law.
Many towns around Sidney have implemented fireworks ordinances that focus on the sale and use of fireworks. Maine state law explicitly defines when fireworks may be used. Federal law clearly defines who may sell fireworks and what fireworks may be sold legally and by whom.
So let’s visit the Federal, Maine State, and some local fireworks law.
Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Chapter II – Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Department of Justice, Part 555 deals with federal law for Commerce in Explosives.
Subpart 11 of Title 27, Section 555 defines what “Consumer Fireworks” are, and these are the only type of fireworks permitted to be sold within Maine.
Maine State Law Title 8, Chapter 9-A, Sections 221 through 237 deal with fireworks law in Maine.
In Maine “consumer fireworks” do NOT include missile-type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners, sky rockets, bottle rockets, or sky lanterns (chinese lanterns, floating paper with any type of fuel). These types of fireworks are illegal in Maine.
Maine Public Law, Chapter 416, Title 8, Chapter 9-A, Section 223-A really lays out the details of the sale and use of fireworks in Maine. Paragraph or subsection 2 specifically directs municipalities in Maine to implement their own ordinances if desired that further restricts the sale or use of fireworks.
So to my fellow Sidney citizens…..
Without an ordinance, this Maine fireworks usage guide offers good, quick, information.
Fireworks in Maine may be used ANY day between the hours of 9:00am and 10:00pm, except on certain days of the year where they may be used for LONGER periods of time. Only “consumer fireworks” may be used. Fireworks may only be used on YOUR property or on another person’s property with their expressly given consent.
I looked at the towns of Augusta, Winslow, and Oakland, who do have fireworks ordinances (feel free to Google: <insert town name> fireworks ordinance.)
The City of Augusta prohibits the use or sale of fireworks completely unless you have a display permit issued by the City and establishes fines/fees different from the State of Maine.
The City of Winslow requires a permit for the sale of fireworks and establishes fines/fees different from the State of Maine.
The City of Oakland establishes stricter areas of use as well as prohibiting the use of fireworks under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. They also establish restrictions on use when the danger of natural fire is higher. Oakland also defines specific days when fireworks may be used that are stricter than the State of Maine and requires a permit to use fireworks on weekends.
And there are different regulations around “displays” versus “consumer” fireworks.
I encourage you to read the Maine state law on fireworks. And if your neighbors are truly breaking the law, as opposed to simply annoying you within their lawful rights, contact your town representatives for clarification and assistance.