BUCKSPORT, Maine — Council members were divided Thursday over a proposal to prohibit the sale and use of fireworks in town despite testimony from several residents and the fire chief in support of a ban.
An ordinance to ban consumer fireworks in Bucksport failed to pass on a 2-2 vote. The issue may not be dead, however. Councilors could reconsider the vote during a later meeting when more members are present, including the councilor who proposed the ban in the first place.
Like a number of communities around Maine, Bucksport is debating how to respond to last year’s vote in the Legislature to legalize consumer fireworks in Maine.
Bangor, Augusta, Belfast and Brunswick are among the communities that have already enacted local ordinances prohibiting fireworks, while Ellsworth and other communities have put in place moratoriums while state officials develop rules and regulations.
The proposed ordinance on the table in Bucksport would have prohibited the use, sale and possession with intent to use fireworks. Fines would range from $200 to $500, depending on the violation.
Fire Chief Craig Bowden said that as a professional firefighter, he could not support allowing fireworks in town because of national statistics on the number of deaths and injuries — especially to children — as well as fires caused by their use.
“From a professional standpoint, the more of these you put out there, the more chances that they are going to be used improperly, in the wrong places and at the wrong time,” Bowden said.
Police Chief Sean Geagan said not all fireworks will be legal in Maine under the complicated rules coming down from the state, so his department will have to enforce the law whether the town allows fireworks or not. But Geagan said he couldn’t see any positive aspects of putting more fireworks in the hands of untrained people.
The town health officer, a representative of the Bucksport Bay Healthy Communities Coalition and at least one town resident spoke in support of banning fireworks.
Ultimately, council members David Keene and Jeffrey Robinson Sr. voted in favor of banning fireworks while Robert Howard and Belle Ryder were opposed. The motion to pass the ordinance failed because of the tie vote.