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Posted at 11:29 a.m., Friday, December 28, 2007

Maui firework permit sales also lagging

By MELISSA TANJI
The Maui News

WAILUKU, Maui There might be less crackle and pop during New Year's celebrations as permits to set off firecrackers in Maui County are on the decline, The Maui News reported.

As of Wednesday afternoon, only 45 firecracker permits had been sold at the Fire Prevention Bureau office in Wailuku, compared to 135 permits at the same time last year, office staff members said.

In 2005, there were 406 permits sold, and in 2006 the number was down to 389 permits, according to the bureau's Capt. Val Martin.

(Although in 2005, the number of permits had to be limited because of the small inventory of firecrackers brought into the county, Martin said.)

Martin attributes the decline to the introduction of the "paperless crackers" several years ago. The "crackers" are similar to firecrackers, but do not need a permit and leave less debris.

State law defines a firecracker according to the size of its paper cylinders and the amount of gunpowder in each one. But the virtually paperless crackers look like a long roll of red tape with pockets on each side for the charges, and they're not contained in the usual red paper tubes.

Martin also attributed the decline in firecracker permits issued to the closure of Ooka's Super Market in Wailuku two years ago.

Ooka's sold firecrackers at reasonable prices, and the store was conveniently located near the former prevention office next to the Wailuku Fire Station, he said.

But "some people need to have the real firecrackers so they will always get a permit," he said. "It is a once-a-year tradition, and the paperless crackers are not the same."

Firecracker permits are required to purchase 5,000 firecrackers. Permit applicants must be 18 years or older. Permits cost $25 each, and there is no limit on the number of permits one can buy.

Firecrackers are being sold at the Kahului, Kihei and Lahaina Foodland Super Markets; Sack 'N Save in Wailuku; Kmart; at the Star Market stores in Kahului, Kihei and Lahaina and at two tent locations the King's Cathedral & Chapels off of Puunene Avenue in Kahului and at 1215 S. Kihei Road.

On Moloka'i, firecrackers may be purchased at Misaki's and Take's Variety Store. On Lana'i, permits and firecrackers are being sold at Pine Isle Market.

Permits are also available at the the Fire Prevention Bureau in Wailuku at 780 Alua St. and at the Lahaina and Molokai county parks permit offices.

The Fire Prevention Bureau will also be open from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday to sell permits.

Fireworks that do not need permits are being sold at various stores around the county.

On Thursday morning, Pine Isle Market on Lana'i reported it has sold 14 firecracker permits.

Isamu Honda of Pine Isle said firecrackers as well as nonpermit fireworks were moving briskly off of the shelves.

"This year, we brought in plenty, too," Honda said.

A worker at the Lahaina county parks permit office said it sold four permits as of Thursday morning.

A call made to the Moloka'i parks office was not returned on Thursday.

Although the number of permits are on the decline, Martin urged people to exercise caution with novelty items such as sparklers, snakes and fountains, which don't require permits but can also be dangerous.

Martin recommends:

  • Be aware where others are around you when lighting fireworks.

  • Never take apart fireworks or use them for purposes other than intended by the manufacturer.

  • Clear all dry, unkempt vegetation near structures that could be ignited by fireworks.

  • Have a bucket of water or garden hose handy.

  • Buy only what you will use for the holidays. Do not store extra fireworks.

    Martin said parents should be responsible for their children's actions and should make sure there are no leftover fireworks that children can get into after the holidays.

    "Will the children have access to leftover fireworks when no responsible adult is home? It is a good idea to use all the fireworks up. Kids and leftover fireworks is recipe for disaster when parents are at work," Martin said.

    In July, a fire that scorched 5 acres in north Kihei was started by two youths playing with fireworks in a nearby park, triggering the evacuation of several homes.

    Martin also warns that there are consequences to bringing in fireworks to the islands without a permit, which can result in fines and jail time.

    Aerial fireworks brought in without a permit are also illegal. Those with permits have training, certification and insurance.

    "We would like to leave the aerial fireworks to the professionals," Martin said. "These type of fireworks can land on rooftops and start fires, especially roofs with wooden shingles. They are also able to land in dry brush that may be set far from the roadway. Aerial fireworks can fly sideways unintentionally."

    For more Maui news, visit The Maui News.