KFD: Light fireworks with care over July 4 weekend

LIHU’E — Concerned chronic dry weather conditions could trigger fires,

Kaua’i Fire Department brass are asking residents to use caution when lighting

fireworks during the July 4th weekend.

“We get related brush fires from

fireworks, especially with these dry conditions,” said Kaua’i Fire Chief

David Sproat.

Sproat and Capt. Mike Kano, who heads the KFD Prevention

Bureau, said they also are concerned residents will hoard fireworks before a

new fireworks law goes into effect July 6.

This could be disastrous for

residents who do so, Sproat said.

“It (aerial fireworks) is highly

flammable, explosive and dangerous, especially in big amounts when people

hoard,” Sproat said. “And they shouldn’t be doing that.”

Kaua’i fire

officials are equally concerned about the sale of aerial fireworks, which are

illegal, but popular. The fireworks are those that rise more than 12 feet from

the ground after they are lit.

KFD has begun checking stores and firework

outlets for the sale of these types of fireworks, Kano said. So far, no

businesses have been cited.

Related to the new firework law, Sproat said he

and his counterparts on O’ahu, Big Island and Mau’i have reservations about the

new law because some of the legislation’s language is weak

“We don’t have

the final version that is legally tight,” Sproat said. “The law has legal

questions that need to be answered.”

Some of the key parts of the new

law:

* Requires a $25 permit to burn 5,000 firecrackers during one

event.

* Limits the sale to packet sizes of 5,000 firecrackers or

less.

* Changes the time for use of non-aerial fireworks on Chinese New

Year’s Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on July 4th from 1 p.m. to 9 pm.

Restricts the issuance of a permit to use for cultural purposes outside of the

periods for New Year’s, Chinese New Year’s and July 4th.

* Restricts

purchase to five days before the events.

* Clarifies that only persons who

have obtained public display permits are allowed to buy and use aerial common

fireworks.

* Requires the facility in which fireworks are to be stored to

meet state and county fire and safety codes.

The new law, for instance,

doesn’t spell out which government agency will issue the permits for the sale

of fireworks. On Kaua’i, the law has been presented to the Kaua’i County

Attorney’s Office for a legal opinion, Sproat said.

Sproat said and other

fire chiefs in the state also are asking their respective legal counsel for

likewise opinions.

The impetus for the legislation – approved by the state

Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ben Cayetano – came about after

residents complained smoke from fireworks lit during recent New Year’s Even

celebration created fire hazards and respiratory problems.

However, the

new law is good in that it will exact “meaningful” penalties against violators,

Sproat said.

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