The only Fourth of July sizzle this year may be the hot dogs on the grill, as all public fireworks displays have been canceled across the islands due to COVID-19 guidelines discouraging large gatherings.
While there has been some speculation nationwide that the absence of public displays would result in an increase in the use of consumer fireworks at home, that may not be the case for Hawaii.
Independence Day firecracker permit applications on Oahu dipped this year with just 71 issued compared with an average of about 100 permits, said Honolulu Fire Department Battalion Chief Kevin Mokulehua. And that figure is minuscule in comparison with the 20,000 or so permits typically issued around New Year’s Eve.
“Hawaii doesn’t celebrate that holiday like the mainland,” said Mokulehua, who heads HFD’s Community Risk Reduction Branch.
The lower number of permits also may be due to the switch to an online-only application system, Mokulehua said. The change was made because the system is more efficient for the city’s Customer Services Division, makes it easier for HFD to track applications and is more convenient for the public, he said.
The permits are for firecrackers, which are the only legal consumer fireworks allowed on Oahu. All others, such as sparklers and aerial fireworks, remain illegal.
HFD will track any fireworks-related complaints starting at 8 a.m. today through midnight.
In a statement, Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves said, “While the number of fireworks-related injuries on Oahu is typically lower than elsewhere in the nation, even a single incident is one too many because it causes suffering which is preventable.”
It is unlawful for anyone on Oahu to set off firecrackers on public ways, at parks and places of worship or on public beaches, in forest or wildlife reserves or on school grounds. It also is illegal to set off firecrackers within 1,000 feet of hospitals, health and senior care facilities, animal care facilities, including the Honolulu Zoo, and within 500 feet of a hotel.
Other prohibitions include transporting firecrackers in carry-on or checked luggage or via airline cargo or the mail. It is also illegal to remove or extract pyrotechnic contents from fireworks.
HFD offered these safety tips for those who plan to set off firecrackers:
>> Do not string firecrackers on utility poles.
>> Have a garden hose or bucket of water available in the event of a fire.
>> Always wear eye protection when lighting firecrackers.
>> Never attempt to reignite malfunctioning firecrackers or experiment with homemade firecrackers.