A new law legalizing the sale and use of many kinds of previously illegal fireworks has local officials buzzing about how — or whether — to regulate fireworks at the local level.

“It’s a pretty hot topic,” said Eric Conrad, spokesman for the Maine Municipal Association. “Councils and selectboards around the state are trying to figure out what to do.”

The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, allows towns and cities to prohibit or restrict the sale or use of consumer fireworks locally.

No one is proposing an outright ban, but town and city officials across the state have started to explore their concerns. A few have called the Maine Municipal Association, Conrad said. The association had an article about the new law in its magazine and will have a special presentation on fireworks law during the association’s convention in October.

Portland’s Public Safety Committee is taking up the issue Tuesday, with a discussion of the new law and a possible prohibition.

City spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said last week that no companies have approached the city about selling fireworks.


In Freeport, there has been one inquiry at Town Hall, and the council will have its first discussion about creating a local ordinance Tuesday, said Town Manager Dale Olmstead.

Kittery officials reported getting several calls not long after Gov. Paul LePage signed the bill July 1. Interest was likely high because most tourists drive through Kittery when coming into Maine. It is legal to sell and use fireworks in New Hampshire, the state out-of-state drivers must pass through before getting to Maine.

On Monday, the Kittery Town Council is expected to discuss whether to allow the sale of fireworks, where to allow businesses to sell fireworks and whether the town should restrict the use of fireworks, Town Manager Jon Carter said.

“From that, we’ll take that and develop any ordinance that may be required,” Carter said.

In some areas, it is residents who are worried about safety.

The association representing residents of Kinney Shores, a coastal community with year-round and seasonal residents in Saco, recently sent a letter to Saco Mayor Ron Michaud requesting that the city prohibit fireworks.


The association said in the letter that fireworks are already set off frequently in the area and legalizing their use will only increase disruption in the neighborhood. It also cited safety issues, including debris left behind from the fireworks, fire dangers and disturbance to wildlife, including the piping plover.

While the City Council heard the association’s concerns, Michaud said there was no interest in creating a local ordinance at this point.

“We’ll monitor the situation and see what develops,” he said.

A local ordinance has already been drafted in Cumberland, Town Manager Bill Shane said. The Town Council started work on the ordinance before the passage of the bill.

With 3 miles of shoreline on the bay, Shane said, “We’re working on primarily the display of fireworks so that neighborhoods are protected.”

The fire chief and town attorney are reviewing the draft and comparing it to the state law, Shane said. He expects the council will review it again in September or October.


The South Portland City Council plans to take up the issue during a September workshop. Mayor Rosemarie De Angelis said she is interested in hearing what her fellow city councilors and public safety officials think about fireworks in their community. She wonders about the public safety implications for a densely populated city.

“If I were to say, what’s my present leaning, I really think there are more risks than advantages to allowing them in a city of this density,” she said.

Kennebunk Fire Chief Stephen Nichols, vice president of the Maine Fire Chiefs’ Association, said the association never formally took a position on the bill, but he has safety concerns regarding the use of fireworks.

“We’ve seen fires started. Kids get hurt and adults get hurt, too,” with illegal use of fireworks in Kennebunk, he said. “I know there will be fireworks sold and create some revenue for the state. I just hope people are using them safely.”

Regardless of what municipalities do, Conrad said, allowing municipalities to create their own ordinances is what’s important.

“We do appreciate the fact that municipalities have the ultimate say,” he said.

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