Thursday, November 26, 2015         

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City collecting illegal fireworks

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


With sparklers, fountains and other types of novelty fireworks now illegal on Oahu, the Honolulu Police and Fire departments are encouraging residents to dispose of the explosives as the Fourth of July approaches.

A new amnesty program will allow people to drop off illegal fireworks at designated fire stations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through the four weekends.

The fireworks will be collected by police for disposal.

People on Oahu may use only firecrackers, and only during specified holidays such as New Year's Eve and the Fourth of July. Other fireworks, including novelty items such as sparklers and small fountains, are no longer legal to sell, possess or set off.

If residents don't surrender the fireworks during the amnesty period and are caught with them later, they could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

Fire Capt. Terry Seelig urged residents to take advantage of the program in light of the City Council's ordinance to curb fireworks, which took effect Jan. 2.

The law makes illegal "fireworks people might have purchased and not used because of whatever reason," he said. "Fireworks are inherently dangerous. If used correctly, you can minimize the risk, but just having them around … increases the hazard to the individual as well as the community."

The Fire Department received one or two inquiries from the public after the explosion of aerial fireworks killed five men who had been working on disposing the explosives on April 8, Seelig said.

Police spokeswoman Michelle Yu said that incident showed how dangerous it is to handle fireworks, even for professionals.

Details of the amnesty program are to be presented at a news conference today.

The Fire Department is also reminding residents that under the new law, they still need to obtain $25 permits for every 5,000 firecrackers they want to buy from a vendor, and that they now must obtain those permits no later than 10 days working days before the holiday.

That means for the upcoming Independence Day celebration, people must have fireworks permits in hand by June 23. Ten days normally would have meant the last day would be June 24, but this year that date falls on a city Furlough Friday, when satellite city halls are closed.

As in previous years, permits for firecrackers can be bought at satellite city halls. There is no limit on the number of permits a person may buy.

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