STAR-BULLETIN / JULY 2002
A bill at the state Legislature would ban personal fireworks on Oahu on the Fourth of July. After the big July Fourth fireworks show off Magic Island, these kids played with their own set of fireworks.
Bill restricts July 4 fireworks
Personal play, but not public displays, would be banned under the measure
Fourth of July would be quieter and less smoky without fireworks, but would it be as patriotic?
A bill at the state Legislature would ban personal fireworks on Oahu on the Fourth of July. The proposal would not affect public fireworks displays.
The bill, SB 831, now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee, after it was approved by the Committees on Public Safety and Intergovernmental and Military Affairs.
The chairmen of the first two committees, Sens. Lorraine Inouye and Will Espero, say constituents and fire safety officials are asking for a ban during the hot summer.
"I am not anti-fireworks. We do celebrate New Year's and Chinese New Year's," Espero said.
Hawaii changed its fireworks regulations in 2000 to ban fireworks except by permit on the Fourth of July, New Year's and Chinese New Year's.
Inouye said she was supporting the July Fourth ban "because it is dangerous to have fireworks during the summer.
"It is the worse time of the year, and I think that is also when kids get more active when they are out of school," Inouye said.
But, others, including state Sen. Sam Slom, say the Fourth without fireworks is unpatriotic.
"As a general principle, I don't support banning things, but especially something like this.
"When we have men and women fighting in a war, the Fourth of July is something we should be celebrating with flags and fireworks," Slom said.
Honolulu Fire Department Chief Kenneth Silva, chairman of the state Fire Council, said statistics show that since the state allowed fireworks on the Fourth of July by permit in 2000, there has been "a significant increase in fire, police and emergency medical incidents."
"The risk of fire is also increased on Independence Day due to dry vegetation islandwide," Silva said.
Honolulu police also support the bill. Police Capt. Mitchell Kiyuna said the increased Fourth of July calls due to fireworks-related incidents put a strain on emergency service providers.
"Injuries or injuries due to fireworks-related accidents are a concern along with the hazards they present to individuals with respiratory problems," Kiyuna said.
Last year, officials on Oahu reported 78 fires on the Fourth caused by fireworks. The most serious was a brush fire that threatened five Makakilo homes, according to fire Capt. Kenison Tejada.
Others, however, said that July Fourth is too important a public holiday and celebration to limit the private use of fireworks.
"To single out the Fourth of July may send a confusing message to the public that this body does not recognize and support our country's birthday," said Ed Thompson, representing the Hawaii Food Industry Association.
Richard Botti, representing retailers selling fireworks and the Consumer Fireworks Safety Association, said the ban sends the wrong message.
"The measure would imply that the Fourth of July is not a cultural event, when it is the most cultural event ever in American, since it is our birthday," Botti said.