AUGUSTA, Maine – State lawmakers may revisit a new law that made several more classes of fireworks legal in 2012. One bill would repeal the law and make most fireworks again illegal to possess.
Lajoie’s proposals will repeal the law that allows the sale, purchase and use of “consumer fireworks” in Maine. Lajoie is a former fire chief for the city of Lewiston.
Lajoie said he believes Maine went backward on safety when it legalized consumer fireworks. He cited information provided by the State Fire Marshal’s Office showing that in 2012, fireworks were blamed for 20 structure fires, 38 wild fires and 20 injuries.
Lajoie said the previous law may not have been perfect but it had advantages over the current law.
“It did reduce the number of nuisance calls, the number of injuries and the number of fires that were previously experienced,” Lajoie said.
Another bill would prohibit the use of fireworks, including commercial displays, within one mile of a farm with livestock.
Lawmakers heard from Wendy Gray, the owner of riding stables in Bowdoinham, who said her horses are often spooked by the unexpected use of consumer fireworks near her facility, putting her animals and customers at risk.
Representatives from the fireworks industry said they focus on safety education when it comes to consumer fireworks. They also noted that the fledgling industry in Maine was a source of much-needed employment.
Daniel Peart, the director of showroom operations for Phantom Fireworks, said it’s estimated that as many as 500 people are employed during the busy summer season at shops run by his company and his competitors.
Phantom sells fireworks in 13 other states.
Several bills, including Lajoie’s, will be back before the committee for work sessions on Monday, March 18.