Countdown to ignition; Fire Department urges safety as fireworks go on sale

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Get ready for your annual New Year’s Eve dose of firecrackers, sulfury smells, pops, whistles and sparkles.

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Get ready for your annual New Year’s Eve dose of firecrackers, sulfury smells, pops, whistles and sparkles.

Fireworks sales began Monday at many East Hawaii locations.

Michael Matsui, Hawaii Fire Department fireworks auditor, emphasized that it’s essential for keiki to be supervised by an adult if they’re going to be around fireworks.

In 2015, he said, there were 15 fireworks-related injuries reported by hospitals in Hawaii County. Most of those injured were younger than 18 years old.

“A lot of the injuries also come from the illegal aerials,” he said.

Those fireworks, such as bottle rockets that shoot into the air, have been illegal since 1996 in Hawaii.

Aerial fireworks, which are being illegally imported onto the island, “have been getting more and more prevalent,” Matsui said.

The Hawaii Fire Department said permits for firecrackers are available at the following locations: BJ Alan Tent, 111 E. Puainako St., Hilo; BJ Alan Tent Hilo, 325 Makaala St., Hilo; J. Hara Store, 17-343 Volcano Highway, Kurtistown; Kadota Liquor, 194 Hualalai St., Hilo; KTA Puainako, 50 E. Puainako St., Hilo; Longs Drugs Kilauea, 555 Kilauea Ave., Hilo; Longs Drugs Prince Kuhio Plaza, 111 E. Puainako St., Hilo; TNT Tent, Safeway parking lot, 381 E. Makaala St., Hilo.

Permits also are available 8 a.m.-4 p.m. today and Friday at the Fire Administration Office at the Hilo County Building, 25 Aupuni St., Suite 2501.

Each permit costs $25, according to the Fire Department, “and will entitle the holder to purchase 5,000 individual firecrackers.”

It is illegal to ignite firecrackers without a permit.

People can purchase multiple permits, but they’re only available to adults ages 18 and older at the time of sale. Permits are nontransferable and nonrefundable.

Fireworks sales “will end at midnight on New Year’s Eve,” the Fire Department noted.

People who want to buy novelties or paperless firecrackers can do so without a permit.

Fireworks are allowed to be set off for four hours between 9 p.m. New Year’s Eve and 1 a.m. New Year’s Day.

Fire Chief Darren Rosario asked the public to keep in mind it is illegal to:

• Remove the contents, such as powder, from any firework.

• Throw fireworks from, at or into any vehicle.

• Set off fireworks outside the allowed hours of 9 p.m.-1 a.m.

• Use fireworks within 1,000 feet of any nursing home, hospital, zoo, animal hospital, animal shelter or church (while services are underway).

• Set off fireworks on any school property without authorization from that school.

• Light fireworks on any public highway, alley, street or sidewalk.

• Light fireworks in any public park.

• Offer to sell or give fireworks to any minor except when the child is under direct supervision of an adult.

• For minors to buy, sell or set off, ignite or cause fireworks to explode, except under the direct supervision of an adult.

• Set off any aerial luminaries commonly known as sky lanterns or Hawaiian lanterns, or any other aerial devices such as bottle rockets, sky rockets, Roman candles, cakes, mortars or shells.

The Hawaii Fire Department also provided the following safety tips:

• Use extreme care when setting off fireworks and be sure children playing with them are under close adult supervision at all times.

• Be sure when setting fireworks off that they’re away from dry grass and flammable materials.

• Have a fire extinguisher and/or water readily available.

• Consider wetting down any dry, grassy area before and after setting off fireworks.

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For more information about fireworks permits or use of fireworks, call the Fire Prevention Bureau in Hilo at 932-2911.

Email Jeff Hansel at jhansel@hawaiitribune-herald.com.