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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, December 31, 2001

Safe revelry urged

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

It's New Year's Eve in Hawai'i, one of the most culturally important dates on the calendar. Evil spirits running amok will be frightened away tonight by an annual orgy of soot, smoke, noise and flash.

Fireworks on display
Four large, professional displays will be visible on O'ahu at midnight tonight:
 •  Aloha Tower Marketplace
 •  Halekulani Hotel, from an offshore barge
 •  Marriott Ihilani Resort Hotel & Spa at Ko Olina
 •  Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hawai'i
Meanwhile, in the more corporeal world, firefighters, paramedics and emergency-room workers gear up for a long and exhausting night of combating fireworks-related emergencies and hoping that flashes of common sense will keep serious injuries and fatalities to a minimum.

So how should a responsible citizen react to the holiday?

Thoughtfully, advises Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Kenison Tejada.

"We want people to stop and reflect on what effects fire can have on their lives," the HFD spokesman said. "It can take lives and destroy homes. It can steal memories and children's photographs and documents."

Last year, an 81-year-old Palolo woman, Lillian Herring, died in her home in a fire thought to have been started by illegal fireworks.

The HFD would prefer that citizens leave fireworks of all sorts in the hands of the professionals, Tejada said.

He said those who are determined to go forward on their own should remember to obey the law and be safe.

Foremost to remember, Tejada said, is the ban on all aerials, the type of fireworks thought to have burned Herring's Myrtle Street home.

And citizens who want to shoot off firecrackers should remember that the city requires them to buy a $25 permit that will allow them to buy 5,000 firecrackers.

Sales of permits will continue on O'ahu through today at City Hall and satellite city halls. Sales of firecrackers will continue until 9 p.m. tonight, and firecrackers can be ignited between 9 p.m. tonight and 1 a.m. tomorrow.

Tejada said that as of 3:30 p.m. Friday, 2,318 permits had been sold. That number was down from the same time last year, when 4,307 permits were sold.

Novelty fireworks, which emit sparks and smoke, can be purchased without permits.

Firefighters ask that those who do use firecrackers or novelty fireworks plan their use carefully.

"Buy them from a licensed retail vender with a displayed permit; read and follow all directions and warnings; use a smooth, flat area clear of combustibles to set them off; and keep a bucket of water or a water hose nearby,'' Tejada said.

Children allowed to use fireworks of any sort should be closely supervised by adults, he said.

Emergency workers are also concerned about air quality on New Year's Eve.

The smoke generated by fireworks creates health concerns for asthma sufferers and those with other respiratory ailments.

Tejada said health workers are hoping that winds will blow the smoke away from residential areas, but the Kona winds that have been prevalent this week are known for their tendency to stop short, leaving long periods of time when the smoke hangs motionless over residential areas.

Health workers recommend that those suffering from respiratory ailments stay indoors, use air conditioning if available and drink plenty of fluids.

Pet owners should also consider moving their pets indoors and taking steps to keep them calm as the noise level rises.