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Thursday, December 7, 2000

New rules
up cost of

People must obtain permits
at satellite city halls for $25
to buy firecrackers

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

New fireworks rules announced today will make it more expensive and inconvenient to buy firecrackers for New Year's Eve celebrations.

Under the new system, adults who want to buy firecrackers must obtain a $25 permit to buy up to 5,000 firecrackers.

The permits will be available at satellite city halls on Oahu beginning next Friday.

There will be no limit on the amount of permits any one person can purchase, said Fire Capt. Richard Soo. However, since merchants are barred from selling packages containing more than 5,000 pieces, the days of buying 50,000 or 100,000 bundles are gone.

Merchants won't be allowed to sell firecrackers until Dec. 26, a change from the Dec. 24 opening sales day of recent years.

The firecracker regulations do not apply to novelty items such as sparklers and cone or cylindrical fountains.

Those purchasing firecracker permits must be 18 or older. Satellite city hall workers have been instructed to ask for identification before issuing the permits.

The permits will not be available at Oahu fire stations. Soo said the Department of Customer Services, which runs the island's 12 satellite city halls, agreed to take on the responsibility of issuing the permits because fire stations aren't equipped to handle cash exchanges.

The city is operating under emergency rules and regulations for fireworks that became necessary when the state Legislature passed a law requiring the four counties to regulate fireworks use. They will be in place until the City Council adopts permanent rules, Soo said.

The permits would be good for the New Year's, Chinese New Year's and Fourth of July celebrations.

The new regulations also increased the cost of permits for public aerial fireworks displays to $110 from $25 and makes it more expensive to sell fireworks.

Licensing fees now cost $3,000 for importers, $2,000 for wholesalers per site, $1,000 for storage per site and $500 for retailers per site. Each of those fees previously cost $110.

Other islands are also coming up with their own fireworks rules.

On the Big Island, the County Council approved funding for seasonal hires to sell the permits at fire stations.

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