Fireworks During a Pandemic
No, this article is not claiming that fireworks will scare off COVID-19, although that would be nice. Quite the opposite is occurring. COVID-19 is causing the cancellation of most of the large-scale firework shows we are so used to seeing on the Fourth of July. While that is not a direct concern for Association’s, the fallout is. In the absence of big firework shows, many association residents may want to buy and set off their own fireworks. This year, more than ever, associations should think ahead and remind residents about local government and association restrictions on the use of fireworks.
Your local government may have firework prohibitions or restrictions in place. Enforcement may not be a priority for the government, but your association can still notify residents of those restrictions in an effort to deter violations.
In addition, your association may already have language in its governing documents restricting the use of fireworks. Associations typically have broad authority to limit or prohibit the use of fireworks on association property. Most declarations, which contain the recorded covenants that bind all owners, contain a blanket prohibition against “noxious or offensive” activity. Declarations also usually give the association, acting through its board, the exclusive right to regulate the use of common areas, and there is likely a corresponding provision that prohibits owners from damaging or altering common areas.
Your association may have previously adopted rules related to the use of fireworks. Many rules include a requirement for quiet hours that can also be used as a basis for prohibiting fireworks during certain hours.
Boards and managers should look at their governing documents and determine what restrictions they can rely on to regulate or restrict firework usage. Then, be proactive in the next couple of days to get the message out to residents. It is far easier deal with this up front than to try to stop residents after they have already started lighting off fireworks on association property.
In addition to warnings about fireworks, your association may want to reissue any COVID-19 related requirements or guidelines. The Fourth of July is ordinarily a day to gather and celebrate. It is far too easy to fall into old habits and forget about social distancing and facemasks.
All of this falls under the adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In this day and age anything we can do to keep 2020 from getting worse is worth the effort.
We wish you all a happy and safe Fourth of July.