RUMFORD — Increasing complaints about the use of fireworks this week could lead to a moratorium or outright ban, town officials said Thursday.
Police Chief Stacy Carter said Thursday afternoon at the police station that at a future meeting, he will request a ban from selectmen on the personal use of fireworks.
Between Sunday and Thursday, his officers fielded 14 complaints that are coming in at two to three a day and tying up his officers.
"Some of it is because of the disturbance the noise creates, some are because of fears that it will start a fire, and some of it is because of illegal use of fireworks," Carter said.
"This all results in a lot of calls for service and it's using up my resources," he said.
Rumford officers have issued several warnings and a few summonses, he said.
Carter said some people are still going to New Hampshire and buying fireworks legal there, but not in Maine. Additionally, he said some people still have fireworks they bought when the use was illegal in the past and are now shooting them off.
Selectmen and Town Manager Carlo Puiia also raised the issue at Thursday night's board meeting.
"The Police Department handling all these complaints on fireworks, once again, I can't stress enough that of the taxpayers in this town, some of them are abusing the privilege," Selectman Jeremy Volkernick said.
Fireworks are not supposed to be shot off in Rumford after 10 p.m., Volkernick said.
"Ten o'clock means 10 o'clock. Obviously, it's not 11 or 12 o'clock," he said. "I'd hate to see that next year we come back here with an ordinance for the town of Rumford banning them because a select few are breaking it."
At the board's June 21 meeting, Volkernick said that periodically, noise from small fireworks and firecrackers could be heard during the night. He stressed that Rumford doesn't have an ordinance for consumer fireworks and asked that residents using them be respectful to people living in the area.
"Don't do them at 11 or 12 at night," Volkernick said at that meeting. "I don't want us to have to develop another ordinance."
"I just want to make it clear that there isn't a noise ordinance in town and unless you have a special amusement permit, fireworks or any other loud noises are not allowed past 10 o'clock," Selectman Jolene Lovejoy said.
However, when asked by a resident when people are allowed to start shooting off fireworks, selectmen and Puiia said they didn't know. Puiia said he would find out.
"Currently, we are following the state law," Puiia said. "We have no personal-use ordinance. We just have a retail outlets ordinance where they need permits."
Puiia reiterated Carter's and Volkernick's comments, saying Rumford officials have fielded many complaints on the personal use of fireworks.
"On a daily basis concerning unsafe conditions, firing past the time limits, and another one is the debris that is being deposited on neighbors' lawns from those using fireworks, so it's becoming a nuisance," Puiia said.
He suggested putting the issue on the agenda of a future board meeting "with the possibility of considering a moratorium until we can address some of these issues."
However, there seems to be confusion among residents that Rumford has an ordinance allowing the use of personal fireworks when selectmen and Town Manager Carlo Puiia have publicly said the town doesn't have such a law.
On the final town meeting ballot at the June 12 polls under Article 47, No. 3, it asks, "Shall the town adopt the ordinance entitled Chapter 21-C Consumer Fireworks Ordinance?"
The summary and explanation reads that Maine recently repealed the prohibition of fireworks in Maine and has allowed municipalities to propose their own ordinances regarding fireworks.
"This ordinance will allow personal use of consumer fireworks, but require retail outlets to be permitted by the town," the article then states.
It was approved by a tally of 648-397.
However, after Thursday night's selectmen's meeting, Puiia said that despite the article's language, Rumford doesn't have an ordinance that allows personal use of consumer fireworks.
"We are relying on state law in allowing consumer fireworks," Puiia said.