Thursday, August 27, 2015         

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Store fireworks 'in a cool, dry place,' city says

People are advised to keep their explosive novelties till a disposal program is established

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Honolulu police and fire officials are working on a program for the public to dispose of unwanted or illegal fireworks.

In the meantime, fireworks shouldn't be thrown away with garbage and should not be placed in water, Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig said yesterday.

"Mainly keep them dry," Seelig said.

Explosive chemicals can become more unstable after they become wet and then dry out, he said.

He said the department has received a couple of public inquiries since an explosion of aerial fireworks in an underground Waikele storage facility killed five men two weeks ago.

A Honolulu law that took effect this year bans the sale, possession and use of all consumer fireworks on the island except traditional firecrackers.

It is widely believed that, in anticipation of the ban, people purchased extra sparklers, spinning wheels and other novelty items for future use.

Aerial display fireworks can be possessed and used only by trained professionals licensed by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The fire and police departments are still working on a program making it possible for people to turn in their fireworks. Details need to be worked out, said Seelig and HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu.

Until then, the public is being urged to hang on to their fireworks, even though possession is illegal.

"The safe, best practice is to keep them in a cool, dry place," Seelig said. "Keep them away from any source of spark or heat. Handle them as little as possible."

Aerial fireworks are considered more dangerous because of their formulations, but the same rules apply to consumer fireworks, he said.

"It's the same concept because you're talking about what might lead to accidential ignition or degradation of the content," he said.

If fireworks are in their original shipping containers and packages, keep them there, he said.

Finally, members of the public should "never, ever, disassemble or take the fireworks apart," Seelig said. "That's inherently dangerous, even when done by trained professionals."

What caused the Waikele explosion is still unknown and investigators have said they expect to take a while.

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