HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Oahu became the first county in the state to pass stronger legislation to regulate fireworks with the signing of the much-debated Bill 34 Tuesday.
With the stroke of his pen, acting Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed the landmark bill into law. Beginning January 2, consumers on Oahu will be prohibited from setting off novelty fireworks such as sparklers, fountains and paperless firecrackers.
"Every person here is very proud of our culture, about our diversity, about our heritage that makes us so different than anywhere else in America," Caldwell said. "Yet, we need to do more to protect people's lives and to protect our property."
Firefighters say New Year's Eve is their busiest day of the year, as they hustle from fireworks-triggered blazes to medical calls.
"I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired on Fourth of July and on New Year's Eve," Chief Ken Silva, Honolulu Fire Department, said. "So I'm very encouraged by the fact that we have a resource at our disposal, that we have a mechanism to, I think, make a huge difference in keeping our communities safer."
"Although we wanted to have a total ban, this is a good beginning," Chief Louis Kealoha, Honolulu Police Department, said.
A person with a $25 permit will still be able to purchase up to 5,000 firecrackers on New Year's Eve and Day, Chinese New Year's, Fourth of July, and for cultural events. Since the law won't take effect until January 2, emergency responders are preparing for a potentially-explosive New Year's as some consumers try to go out with a bang.
"I am concerned that this next New Year's Eve might turn into a war zone," Sen. Will Espero, Senate public safety committee chair, said.
"Actually, we're really concerned, not only myself but also for HPD," Silva said. "We're going to be working in concert on a plan to educate the public prior to that."
As for enforcing the new law, a police spokesperson says HPD is still working on a plan.