Report illegal fireworks use by calling 911


POSTED: Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Question: Around midnight Sunday, Jan. 25, aerial fireworks started going off near Ala Moana Center. A few minutes later, more aerial fireworks went off closer to Wal-Mart. This happened twice between midnight and 12:45 a.m. There also were numerous instances of loud fireworks. Then, around 12:30 a.m., I could hear Chinese lion dance drums, with more fireworks, going off near Chinatown. Was there some event going on that night? I know it was Chinese New Year's weekend, but it was disturbing to be held on a Sunday night and at such a late hour. Is there some way I could have reported this (e.g., disturbing the peace?) or inquired about it?

Answer: The Honolulu Fire Department's dispatch center did not receive any calls about any of the fireworks you described that night, said HFD spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig.

But based on your descriptions and times, these were all illegal uses of both consumer and display fireworks, he said.

“;As with the observation of any crime, the police should be contacted (at 911) and a report made,”; Seelig said.

The general public can legally purchase and use “;consumer”; fireworks, which include firecrackers and novelties, only during these designated periods:

» July 4, Independence Day, from 1 to 9 p.m.

» New Year's Eve, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

» Chinese New Year's Day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (This year, Chinese New Year's was Monday, Jan. 26.)

» For “;cultural use,”; as permitted by a county fire department, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Cultural uses would cover such events as weddings and the opening of stores, as well as practices tied to ethnic traditions, Seelig said. In such cases the applicant would specify a time frame within the 9 a.m.-to-9 p.m. period.

Fireworks used to celebrate Chinese New Year on any day other than Jan. 26 would have required a permit.

Seelig said your observation of aerial fireworks indicated not just illegal use, “;but extremely dangerous behavior.”;

“;Aerial fireworks displays must be approved by the appropriate county fire department and require that the applicant have a licensed pyrotechnic operator,”; he said. “;This means that all aerial fireworks are illegal if they are fired without a permit or by an unlicensed operator.”;

He also explained that pyrotechnic devices used in aerial displays are often called “;professional fireworks”; because they require the knowledge and skill of a professional pyrotechnic operator.

“;Professional fireworks are much more powerful and dangerous than consumer fireworks,”; he said.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services statistics show more than one-third of fireworks-related deaths in the United States, between 2000 and 2005, involved professional devices illegally sold to the public.



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