Wednesday, January 3, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, January 3, 2001

Time to put the pros in charge of fireworks

It would be doubly tragic if the state’s new permit law for firecrackers was indirectly responsible for the orgy of fireworks destruction that accompanied New Year’s Eve on Oahu this year.

That is one of the hunches of Fire Department officials, who noted a decrease in the amount of firecrackers and accompanying smoke and pollution Sunday night. That appeared to be the direct result of a rather strict permitting system that kept down the amount of firecrackers bought and exploded.

With that outlet for fun somewhat restricted, the theory goes, folks put more of their fireworks money into illegal aerials.

Result: one death and at least three serious house fires as the pyrotechnics rained down on Honolulu.

There’s no doubt that the sight of bombs bursting in the midnight skies makes for a thrilling sight.

But the irresponsible use of the illegal aerials is soon going to kill all the fun. The drumbeat for an absolute ban on private use of fireworks is growing.

There are signs that the permit system for firecrackers did some good. That process should continue.

Meanwhile, the approach to aerial fireworks must proceed on two tracks. Tougher enforcement is needed, particularly against those who import and sell the aerials. This problem must be stopped at the dealer level.

At the same time, there is room for more spectacular public displays by licensed fireworks companies. Imagine the show that the pros could put on with the money spent on illegal private fireworks and the cost of cleaning up the carnage after.

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