Mobile City Council approves compromise fireworks restrictions

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 6:53 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - After some debate and compromise, the City Council on Tuesday approved new restrictions on the use of fireworks.

The 5-0 vote bans commercial-grade fireworks for most of the year, with four exceptions – July 3 and 4, and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Until now – despite popular misconception – fireworks were legal in Mobile except for Mardi Gras. District 4 Councilman Ben Reynolds said he sponsored the fireworks ordinance to prevent a total ban, as some had advocated.

“We have enjoyed the freedom to celebrate our country’s independence for centuries now, and I don’t want to take that away from people,” he said after the meeting. “I think we should continue to allow that to happen. And rolling over New Year’s, starting a new beginning, everybody likes to go out and shoot fireworks. And the government shouldn’t control everyone on everything.”

Before adopting the ordinance, the council approved an amendment offered by Reynolds giving the fire chief the power to suspend fireworks in times of drought, other weather-related conditions or to preserve public safety.

City Councilman Joel Daves said he would have preferred for Mobile to adopt the same approach as Alabama’s other big cities, which prohibit fireworks, altogether. But he voted for the compromise.

“The governance, especially under the American system, is kind of a messy thing,” he said. “And there are often disagreements between legislators about the best course of action. And sometimes you don’t get every single thing you want. But three-quarters of a loaf is better than no loaf at all.”

The Mobile Fire-Rescue Department, released a statement about the new rules: “The council made the decision to allow the use of fireworks on certain days. The Mobile Fire-Rescue Department will do its best to educate the public on how to safely enjoy the holidays.”