Big Ban Theory: Maui Monitors Fireworks as July 4th Nears
By Wendy Osher
The future of fireworks on Maui is on the radar as the Fourth of July holiday nears. With a partial ban already in place on O’ahu, and limited supplies available for purchase on Maui, we posed the question to Fire Chief Jeff Murray and Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa.
If a total ban were proposed on Maui, Fire Chief Murray, said he would support the measure. “Novelty items and illegal aerials are the ones that cause the fires,” said Chief Murray, “the firecrackers (that currently require permits) don’t necessarily cause the fire problems, but they do cause injury.” A ban on both items, he said, would help to mitigate issues of safety and fire prevention.
Although he supports a full ban, Chief Murray said he would allow leeway for licenses to be issued for cultural demonstrations.
Mayor Arakawa meantime, said he probably would not support a full ban at this point, but would follow whatever the council decides. Any ban proposed for the County of Maui would have to be established under policy approved by the County Council. “I’ve never liked the idea of being too over restrictive,” said Mayor Arakawa.
Last year, Governor Linda Lingle passed a law that allows individual counties to enact ordinances that are more stringent than what the state already has in place. Honolulu responded by enacting a partial ban on January 2, 2011 that prohibits the use of paperless and novelty fireworks, but allows residents to buy $25 permits for the purchase of up to 5,000 firecrackers.
Chief Murray said county authorities are monitoring the law recently enacted in Honolulu. Here on Maui, novelty items and paperless firecrackers are still permissible—including sparklers, snakes, fountains and cylindrical or cone fountains that emit effects of 12-feet or less; firecrackers are also allowed, with the acquisition of proper permits.
Without any formal ban in place, local retailers on Maui decided not to sell permit firecrackers for the upcoming 4th of July holiday. Because there are no local retailers selling permit firecrackers in Maui County, the Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety notified the public that it would not be issuing permits for firecracker use.
“It’s a pseudo ban based on the fact that the merchants aren’t bringing it in,” said Mayor Arakawa. With permits and restrictions already in place, he said, “We’ve tried to make it as safe as possible.”
But injuries are still a concern to fire Chief Murray who said, “It’s not the people that are following the rules that are getting injured; It’s the ones that don’t have a voice, that aren’t being supervised… I can’t see people getting injured,” he said.
This year there is one public fireworks display scheduled at 8 p.m. on the 4th of July, from a barge offshore of Front Street in Lahaina. Front Street will be closed to vehicle traffic during the fireworks display, which is scheduled to last about 10 minutes.
The public is reminded that there is an eight hour window for legal fireworks use on the 4th of July. Fireworks can legally be set off between the hours of 1 and 9 p.m. only, on July 4, 2011.
Fire Chief Murray encouraged safe use of fireworks if they are going to be used. He advised the public to exercise extra caution, to be careful in the area where fireworks are being used, “follow times when fireworks are permitted, keep an eye on children, and use common sense,” he said.