Oahu sites collect the contraband for proper disposal, no questions asked
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jun 19, 2011
An estimated 1,000 pounds of fireworks, from professional-grade aerials to sparklers, were unloaded by residents at four West Oahu fire stations Saturday, the first day of a monthlong amnesty program sponsored by the Honolulu fire and police departments.
"We really didn't know what to expect but I think it surprised all of us how much was brought in," said Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department spokesman.
As of Jan. 2, all fireworks except standard firecrackers became illegal on Oahu. The upcoming Fourth of July celebration will be the first holiday with the law in effect.
Fire stations in Waianae, Kapolei, Waipahu and Waiau were accepting fireworks, no questions asked, on Saturday. Those stations will also be accepting fireworks today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Stations in other parts of the island will be accepting fireworks in coming weeks.
MORE AMNESTY DATESPeople may drop off illegal fireworks today at the Waianae, Kapolei, Waipahu and Waiau fire stations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Selected fire stations on Oahu will continue to collect fireworks during the weekends of June 25-26,
July 9-10 and July 16-17. For a list of times and sites, go to www.honolulu.gov and under News Releases, click on "Fireworks Amnesty Program."
Police officers from HPD's Specialized Services Division, tasked with picking up the explosives and delivering them to an undisclosed site for disposal, estimated scooping up more than 200 pounds each at Waianae, Kapolei and Waipahu, and said the haul at Waiau was even bigger.
An official tally is expected to be issued by HPD later this week.
"We're glad that people realize the danger to themselves and the community these are and that they're turning them in," Seelig said. "We don't know what percentage it represents, but it's a really good start."
Among the items taken to the Waiau station were aerials of the variety more commonly seen in professional displays, Seelig said. Others included bottle rockets, a type of firework not legal for more than 10 years, he said.
Seelig said some people even brought in regular firecrackers, which are still legal under the new law. "For whatever reason, some people wanted to turn them in, and that's fine," he said.
Mark Asakura, of Mililani, rolled his van into the Waiau station just before Saturday's 2 p.m. closing time. Most of the assorted fireworks he dropped off were purchased for this past New Year's celebration but had been stored in the garage.
He decided to bring them in "for safety reasons," and to comply with the new law, he said.
Asakura said his son, who is in his 30s, would come home from California during holidays just to be able to set off fireworks. "Not anymore," he said.
The family will likely still pop firecrackers this Independence Day, and will obtain the permits necessary to purchase them, he said.
While the new law does make it OK for people to set off firecrackers, the deadline for obtaining city permits to purchase and use them has been moved a lot earlier.
Permits must be purchased at satellite city halls by Thursday to use firecrackers this Fourth of July. Each $25 permit allows a person to buy up to 5,000 common firecrackers. There is no limit on the number of permits a person can buy.