‘Firework zones’ eyed following noisy, dangerous start to 2023

The state wants to work with the counties and first responders to establish “fireworks zones” in the wake of this year’s New Year’s celebrations.
Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 5:45 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 10, 2023 at 4:49 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state wants to work with the counties and first responders to establish “fireworks zones” in the wake of this year’s New Year’s celebrations, which resulted in a long list of injuries and one death.

Gov. Josh Green said Monday that 10 to 12 of these sites could be set up with the counties around the state during the holiday seasons to help prevent deaths like that of Kenneth Meyers of Wahiawa.

Grieving Oahu family searching for answers after man dies following New Year’s fireworks accident

“I’m hoping for three days of fireworks around the holidays, a much more expansive public fireworks program where people can come have fireworks, maybe get permits, even compete to have great presentations,” Green said Monday.

Aerial fireworks and sparklers have been banned on Oahu since 2011, and the proposed three-day permit extends the time period for current permits.

Right now, permits for legal fireworks allow people to light off firecrackers between 9 p.m. New Year’s Eve and 1 a.m. New Year’s Day.

Permits are also available for the Chinese New Year and the Fourth of July.

The Green Administration said it also wants to eliminate the financial incentives for people who smuggle illegal aerials into Hawaii, which has been lucrative for decades.

Many of the most dangerous fireworks are also the most profitable to bring in.

“Typically, you will make a profit of three times the value of the cost of the item,” said Jordan Lowe, director of the new state Department of Law Enforcement.

“If you pay $10,000 and that’s your costs. You know, it can you can profit anywhere from $30,000 up to $100,000.”

HPD says it received more than 2,400 fireworks-related calls, issued 17 citations and confiscated more than 300 pounds of illegal fireworks.

Most of the fireworks come from China and are smuggled in through the harbors.

But the state said it would be impossible to inspect all of the cargo coming in for illegal fireworks.

“Instead of just trying to enforce — which we should still do — we should actually incentivize people to go to great fireworks presentations,” said Green.

“Let them do them in safe spaces with some fireworks folks and fire safety people so that we don’t blow people’s fingers off.”