By Holly Juscen – bio | email
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) . Enjoy your fireworks this weekend, because it could be the last holiday to celebrate with them legally. A bill to ban consumer use on Oahu has moved one step closer to passing. This bill would prohibit the retail sale or use of fireworks anywhere on Oahu.
A city council committee listened to testimony from the public as well as both police and fire officials. Despite several attempts, the Honolulu Police Department and the Honolulu Fire Department have failed in getting an all-out ban on consumer fireworks.
Their biggest concern is health and public safety issues. Last year alone, there were 112 fireworks related injuries statewide, 99 of those on Oahu.
"Explain to me why items continue to be sold that result in young children literally being blown up and lit on fire eyes damaged beyond repair and little hands curled into little claws," said Marilyn Lee, a concerned Oahu resident.
But opponents say a ban would not solve the problem and enforcement would be difficult.
" No where has a ban ever worked, it makes this worse. You lose control, you don't gain control. It's fundamentally unfair that the vast majority of people on this island have their rights abridged because of the illegal acts of a few," said Jerry Farley, a TNT Fireworks lobbyist.
But, Honolulu Fire Chief, Ken Silva says something needs to be done.
"Being in the fire department for almost 30 years now , I see the problem with fireworks. I'm a local boy born and raised here, but from a public safety perspective, seeing the injuries, seeing the deaths and the property damage, we need to ban consumer fireworks," said Chief Silva.
Currently, state law prohibits non-professionals from setting off aerial fireworks. A new state law, that went into effect last week, allows each county to ban or limit the use of legal fireworks.
Although fireworks on New Years Eve and the 4th of July have been a long standing tradition here in Hawaii, some city council members believe something has to be done.
"Just because it's custom or tradition, doesn't mean it's a necessary I think health and public safety of the people is primary," said Gary Okino of the Honolulu City Council.
The city council will further discuss this bill on July 14th, then a public hearing will be scheduled.