Oahu sees fireworks permit sales dip
Sales of fireworks permits on Oahu are down 21 percent so far this year from the same time last year, according to the Honolulu Fire Department.
The number sold as of Thursday was 6,602, compared with 8,367 last Dec. 27.
Whether that means fewer fireworks this New Year's season might be too early to say, fire officials say. And police continue to receive complaints about illegal aerials.
Fireworks played role in fires
Figures of fireworks-related fires on Oahu*:
» 2002: 84 fires from Dec. 31 to Jan. 2
» 2003: 20 fires from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1
» 2004: 28 fires from Dec. 31 to Jan. 2
» 2005: 37 fires from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1
» 2006: 64 fires from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1
*Figures are not comparable due to varying time periods for each year. Source: Honolulu Fire Department
"It seems ironic that according to HFD's statistics the number of permits are down, but it has no impact on the illegal fireworks," said Capt. Frank Fujii, Honolulu Police Department spokesman.
Also, preliminary numbers of permits sold might not be indicative of the year's total.
Kailua police Sgt. Gary Daniels has noticed a trend in fireworks use: "There's still a lot, but it seems to be going down a little bit every year."
The number of permits sold hit a high in 2005 at 13,981 and tapered off last year at 10,960. For New Year's Eve 2002, only 6,102 permits were sold.
Whether that is a reflection of actual fireworks being ignited during the New Year's Eve period is difficult to say since no agency has been able to determine that.
"We don't know why the sales of permits are down," said HFD Capt. Terry Seelig.
Some have theorized that the introduction of paperless fireworks, which do not require permits, could be the cause.
"We encourage people to watch professional displays and leave it up to the professionals," Seelig said.
Some police stations report complaints of illegal aerials, including in Kalihi Valley and Waipahu. But perpetrators are often gone by the time officers arrive, or they deny having anything to do with the illegal aerials.
"We got to see them," said one police sergeant. "When we pull out, they stop."
Fujii added: "If people really want us to do something, be available to be a witness. We are limited in what we can do without witnesses.
"The only realistic way that we can start to deal with the problem is a total ban."
The Honolulu Fire Department continues to support a complete consumer ban on fireworks, Seelig noted.
The Fire Department reported fireworks resulted in 64 fireworks-related fires last New Year's, and $4,000 in losses.
In 2005 there were fewer fireworks-related fires at 37, and $1,100 in losses. Losses were higher in 2003 and 2004 with $150,000 and $101,000 respectively, but fires were fewer with 20 and 28 respectively.
Permits cost $25 and are required for regular firecrackers. They are good for up to 5,000 firecrackers, and an unlimited number of permits can be purchased. Novelty fireworks, including paperless fireworks and fountains, can be bought without a permit. Residents have until Monday to purchase a permit at any satellite city hall, except the Hawaii Kai site, which is closed on Monday.
Fireworks can be set off from 9 p.m. New Year's Eve to 1 a.m. on New Year's Day.