Booming restriction: Town bans year-round fireworks

The loud, repetitive booms and pops of fireworks outside your bedroom window late at night likely has kept you awake, sent your dog running to a hiding spot under the bed or left debris scattered in your yard or gutters.

With those specific complaints, residents from around the county have called local officials and police to complain and ask for changes restricting the use of fireworks.

New Whiteland was the latest to respond to those complaints: The town decided to ban fireworks year-round, except for several hours around July 4 and New Year’s that the state allows residents to shoot off fireworks.

Fireworks complaints have been an issue for years, town council member John Perrin said.

Under state law, fireworks can be set off from 5 p.m. to two hours after sunset, New Whiteland town manager Terry Spencer said. Around Independence Day, residents can shoot off fireworks from 9 a.m. to two hours after sunset June 29 to July 3, and July 5 to July 9. On July 4 they’re allowed 9 a.m. to midnight. Fireworks are also allowed from 10 a.m. Dec. 31, or New Year’s Eve, until 1 a.m. Jan. 1.

Otherwise, communities are left to decide when fireworks should or should not be allowed. Greenwood and New Whiteland allow fireworks during the days and times that the state allows but restrict them otherwise.

New Whiteland had issues with residents lighting fireworks late into the night and well after July 4, Perrin said. Town officials also received numerous complaints regarding the frequent use of fireworks and how loud they were.

But two concerns that prompted the ban were from war veterans who may have post-traumatic stress or could be startled by a firework that sounds like a bomb and residents who work the night shift and sleep during the day, Perrin said.

“When your neighbors have to ask you politely to calm it down, you’re being a nuisance,” Perrin said. “Enough is enough. It’s been an ongoing issue for years. There were enough people bothered by it that we needed to do something. Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, knock yourself out, but the rest of the time, let your neighbors live in peace.”

If residents violate the rules, they’ll be faced with a fine that increases every time the police have to be called because of the disturbance.

The first violation is a $50 fine, and the second is $100. Every violation after is $500, according to the rules.

Nearby, Whiteland had to enforce similar restrictions due to complaints and calls to police, town manager Norm Gabehart said.

Whiteland had one situation where a resident was setting off fireworks despite the town’s repeated requests to stop and the police department’s multiple trips to the home after neighbors called and complained, Gabehart said.

That encouraged the town council to rework the law. Town officials wrote up multiple drafts of the new restrictions but, in the end, decided against a ban like New Whiteland.

Instead, they focused on the time of day and night that would impact the people who were a nuisance with their use of fireworks, Gabehart said.

“The idea was not to restrict people that aren’t the problem but instead the people who are the problem,” Gabehart said. “This has been a hot topic for the last year. We spent a tremendous amount of time to get an ordinance that would be enforceable.”

Whiteland fines residents who break the rules up to $500 after receiving their first warning.

The restriction for fireworks is the same for cities and towns in Johnson County. If a resident uses fireworks more than three times in a 24-hour period, it’s considered frequent. And if a resident shoots off fireworks three days in a seven-day span it is considered habitual. Both frequent and habitual use are subject to fines, according to city and town laws.

Unincorporated areas, such as White River Township, follow the state law, Commissioner Kevin Walls said.

What They Allow

Greenwood and New Whiteland only allow fireworks on specific days and times set by the state of Indiana.

  • 9 a.m. to two hours after sunset June 29 to July 3, and July 5 to July 9.
  • Fireworks allowed on July 4 from 9 a.m. to midnight.
  • Fireworks allowed from 10 a.m. on December 31 to 1 a.m. on January 1.

Bargersville, Franklin and Whiteland allow fireworks year-round and follow the state of Indiana’s hours on specific holidays.

  • 9 a.m. to two hours after sunset June 29 to July 3, and July 5 to July 9.
  • Fireworks allowed on July 4 from 9 a.m. to midnight.
  • Fireworks allowed from 10 a.m. on December 31 to 1 a.m. on January 1.
  • Any other day of the year:
  • 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. in Bargersville and Whiteland.
  • 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. in Franklin
  • 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. in Edinburgh

The county follows state law, which allows fireworks between 5 p.m. to two hours after sunset, and during the special times listed above for holidays.

Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2719.