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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 6, 2006

Fire crews, police see safer 4th

By Robert Shikina
Advertiser Staff Writer

FIRE CALLS DOWN

The number of fire calls answered by the Honolulu Fire Department on the Fourth of July decreased compared with last year.

July 4, 2006

Total fires 113

Brushfires 67

Fireworks-related fires 78

July 4, 2005

Total fires 133

Brushfires 101

Fireworks-related fires 53

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Police and firefighters handled a greater number of fireworks-related calls this Fourth of July than in 2005, but officials said the holiday troubles were significantly less serious.

Firefighters fought 78 fireworks-related fires Tuesday, 25 more than in 2005. That's out of 113 fires on O'ahu 20 fewer than last year.

"We're thankful that there were less (overall) than last year," Fire Department spokesman Kenison Tejada said. "It just takes one fire to destroy property."

Both the fire and police departments said this year's holiday celebrations were safer than in the past.

Though police responded to 589 calls related to fireworks up 27 percent from 2005 they made only three arrests related to fireworks and issued just 10 citations.

"Compared to last year, this year's celebration was much safer, with far fewer accidents and incidents of illegal fireworks activity," Mayor Mufi Hannemann said.

Bryan Cheplic, Honolulu Emergency Services spokesman, said EMS personnel responded to just one fireworks-related injury on July 4.

"We always expect a little bit more, but we only got one this year, which is pretty amazing," Cheplic said.

The state Health Department said emergency rooms have until tomorrow to report fireworks injuries. All hospitals are required to report the injuries as part of a surveillance program the state started in 2003. Last year, the department reported 57 fireworks-related emergency-room visits the highest total since the program started.

Kaiser Permanente spokeswoman Lynn Kenton said Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center had only two cases of fireworksrelated injuries. She could not discuss the nature of the injuries because of privacy laws.

Monica Ivey, spokeswoman for The Queen's Medical Center, said fireworks-related injuries were low, although she didn't have a final count. No one suffered major injuries, she said.

Police Capt. Frank Fujii said fewer people shot illegal fireworks at Ala Moana Park this year. Only four illegal fireworks citations were issued in Ala Moana Park's district, Fujii said, as well as 18 liquor citations.

Fireworks permit sales dropped significantly this year, said Dennis Taga, administrator for Satellite City Halls.

Last year, 1,080 permits were sold; this year, 230.

The decline looks steep, but Taga said that's because two people bought a combined 700 permits last year. He also said the use of paperless firecrackers, which do not require a permit, might also be a factor.

The Big Island saw a drop in fireworks-related problems on July 4. The Hawai'i Fire Department responded to 10 confirmed fireworks-related fires and two suspected fireworks incidents none resulting in property loss or injury.

On Kaua'i, firefighters reported eight brushfires on the island on or around the July 4 holiday. Firefighters said a Hanama'ulu fire was clearly caused by fireworks, but it was not known what caused the others.

Reach Robert Shikina at rshikina@honoluluadvertiser.com.