Olga and Jeff Johnson, visiting from Sacramento, Calif., walked out of Fireworks Depot at the McCully Shopping Center yesterday with fireworks that they bought. Fire department officials say a fireworks permit law is helping to reduce the number of firecrackers sold.

HFD expects fewer fireworks

Permit restrictions have cut sales
and brush fires islandwide

By Rod Antone

The Honolulu Fire Department has decided not to staff 12 extra firefighters on New Year's Eve because they expect fewer fireworks to be set off this year and fewer brush fires.

The department usually has the extra firefighters standing by in case fireworks celebrations get out of hand. This year however, HFD officials said they have not seen the spike in brush fires that usually follows Dec. 26, the first day of fireworks sales.

"Usually once fireworks go on sale kids go out and start lighting them and we end up with brush fires in Ewa, Waianae, town, all over," said HFD spokesman Capt. Richard Soo. "We haven't seen that so far this year, so hopefully that trend continues."

Soo said while the department is still pushing for a total ban on fireworks, the fireworks permit law is helping to reduce the number of firecrackers being sold. The law requires people to buy a $25 permit for every 5,000 firecrackers.

At the Daiei Kaheka store, three young men said the permits were definitely cutting into the amount of firecrackers they want to buy.

"We want a lot, but $25 per person is expensive," said Ariel Comendador.

"I wish it was like the old way before the permit," said Brandon Resgonia. "We used to connect four 100,000 fire cracker strands on the street and light it."

In 2001 there were 4,400 fireworks permits issued for New Year's Eve, down from 6,400 permits issued the year before. So far this year permit sales have a way to go with a total of 1,183 permits issued as of 4 p.m. Friday.

Rey and Florence Miguel of Kalihi say they still want at least one strand of firecrackers to ring in 2003. They bought the rest of their supplies yesterday at Daiei. Sparklers, fountains, morning glories and other non-permit fireworks items that do not require a permit filled their shopping cart to overflowing, along with their only non-fireworks item -- a can of jackfruit.

"It's for making lumpia," said Florence.

The Miguels understand that the law changed because of safety reasons. But they said they miss the loud celebration that used to bring their Gulick Street neighbors together.

"We used to compete against each other," said Rey. "You set your fireworks off, then my neighbor would set off his. Then we would all get together and eat and talk."

"We miss the old-time tradition," said Florence. "New Year's Eve 1999 and 2000, those were great years.

"It's lost some of the luster."

Honolulu Fire Department

E-mail to City Desk


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