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Bill to ban fireworks gets preliminary Council vote

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This Fourth of July might be the last hurrah for firecrackers, sparklers and any fireworks other than public displays on Oahu.

A bill banning all consumer fireworks advanced out of the City Council Public Safety and Services Committee by a vote of 3-0. A public hearing on the measure before the full Council is set for July 14.

Supporters argued the ban would go a long way toward ending problems long associated with the loud and smoky tradition, such as respiratory illnesses, fireworks-related injuries and fires.

But not everyone is convinced a ban is the best solution, pointing out that aerial fireworks continue to be a problem and difficult to enforce despite a long-standing blanket ban on their possession and use.

Bill 34 (2010) would bar possession or use of all consumer fireworks, including sparklers and novelty items.

Those who obtain permits for public aerial displays could still do so.

Gov. Linda Lingle recently signed state legislation clearing the way for each of the four counties to enact stricter fireworks laws.

Councilman Gary Okino, who introduced the bill, called consumer fireworks a safety concern.

"The risk to the community at this point is just too great. It may have been relatively safe years ago when we had a lot less people, but now we have more people burning fireworks in a lot denser place."

Public Safety Chairman Lee Donohue said he hopes to have a total ban in place before New Year’s Eve.

There were 172 firecracker permits issued by the end of business yesterday, the last day to obtain them for Sunday’s celebration. That is up from the 119 last Independence Day.


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