Fireworks safety is urged
Aviation officials warn the public that fireworks are banned aboard aircraft
With New Year's around the corner, local and federal officials want residents to be mindful of fireworks regulations, including the ban on bringing any pyrotechnics onto airplanes.
Fireworks sales begin Tuesday
The sale of fireworks in Honolulu begins Tuesday and ends at midnight Dec. 31. A permit is required only if you are purchasing firecrackers.
Permits may be obtained at any satellite city hall for $25. They are not available anywhere else. Licensed retailers may not sell more than 5,000 individual firecrackers per permit. Vendors are not authorized to sell permits.
Fireworks may be set off only from 9 p.m. Dec. 31 to 1 a.m. Jan. 1.
"Our message to the traveling public is do not, under any circumstances, bring fireworks aboard commercial aircraft," said Ian Gregor, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration Western-Pacific Region office in Los Angeles. That includes in carry-on or checked-in luggage, he added.
Out of 77 instances of people caught bringing fireworks aboard a commercial flight in the region in the last fiscal year, 26 of them were in Hawaii.
"So even though air traffic from Hawaii make up a small percentage of the region's overall traffic, more than 33 percent of all firework infractions were from there," Gregor said.
Although figures for this holiday season were not yet available, Gregor said fireworks citations this fiscal year go back as far as Nov. 6.
Gregor said even friction can cause fireworks to ignite and cause devastating fires aboard aircraft.
Penalties for being caught with fireworks during security screening can vary, he said. It could be just a warning letter, or fines could be imposed from $250 to $50,000, depending on the amount confiscated and whether it was determined to be willful.
"In a particularly egregious case, we can prosecute or refer it to the U.S. Attorney," Gregor said. "People convicted can get up to five years in prison, with up to $250,000 in fines and $500,000 for corporations."
Honolulu police and fire officials want residents to remember local regulations as well, especially the need to obtain permits.
Police Maj. Kurt Kendro of the Kalihi Police District reminded residents yesterday of a new law that allows for the sale of fireworks only up to midnight Dec. 31. Previously, residents could purchase fireworks until 1 a.m. New Year's Day.
Last year, there were 1,263 calls for illegal fireworks use or sales, up from 949 in 2004.
"It's probably because of public education," Kendro said at a news conference. "The public now knows to report these kind of things."
Kendro said people caught shooting off fireworks illegally can be fined up to $2,000, and face up to 10 years in prison for the illegal sale of fireworks.
Honolulu Fire Department officials strongly recommend that residents leave the pyrotechnics to professionals. They noted that there will be two fireworks shows -- one at Honolulu Harbor, the other offshore of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki -- at the stroke of midnight to ring in the new year.