Officials warn against use of illegal aerial fireworks

  • Neil, Wyatt and Hunter Hehrsig shop for pyrotechnics Tuesday morning at Phantom Fireworks in Kona Commons. (Lauea Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Ctiste Ching sets up a display Tuesday morning at Phantom Fireworks in Kona Commons. (Lauea Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Pyrotechnics are on sale Tuesday morning at Phantom Fireworks in Kona Commons. (Lauea Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Joby Wong sets up a display Tuesday morning at Phantom Fireworks in Kona Commons. (Lauea Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — The Hawaii Fire Department is cautioning residents about the dangers of illegal aerial pyrotechnics now that fireworks tents have opened across town.

While fireworks became available for sale on Tuesday, authorities warned about the dangers of illegal aerial fireworks as they have already had numerous reports of the devices being ignited. Officials asked the public to report information about the location of these pyrotechnics if they see them.

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Just in the past week, Hawaii Island police received seven fireworks nuisance calls in Kona. Hawaii Police Maj. Robert Wagner said overall this year, there have been 37 calls in Kona and 336 islandwide.

“Please remember that anyone igniting aerial pyrotechnic displays risk not only their life but also the lives of loved ones nearby and potentially neighbors as well,” a press release from the department issued Tuesday states.

Wagner said one specific concern is brush fires as the Kona side of the island is much drier compared to other areas.

The major suggested people keep fireworks confined to their property, away from dry grassy areas and think safety first.

State law dictates anyone purchasing, possessing, storing, setting off, igniting or discharging aerial devices, display fireworks or articles pyrotechnic without a valid pyrotechnic permit may face felony charges resulting in a five-year term of imprisonment if convicted.

Anyone having information about the location of illegal fireworks is asked to call the police department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311 or 911 if it is an emergency situation.

Jeff Kreman, Phantom Fireworks West Coast distribution manager, is aware of the safety concerns officials have with fireworks. However, he said the fireworks industry has done the work to ensure they are abiding by each jurisdiction’s regulations and testing their products to make sure they are safe for use.

Kreman was out overseeing setup of a tent in the Petco parking lot Tuesday morning. The dance group Te Ea O Turama is running the operation at that site.

Kreman said each local jurisdiction allows for different fireworks and regulations. In Hawaii County, safe and sane fireworks are allowed for purchase, as well as firecrackers with the purchase of a $25 permit.

With the fireworks, Kreman said, sparks can’t go higher or wider than 10 feet.

“The illegal products hurt our business,” Kreman said.

Kreman added those purchasing illegal aerial fireworks are breaking the law and authorities are just concerned about safety.

“It’s supposed to be fun,” he said.

Dance group coordinator Criste Ching and other dancers were excited about the products they were putting on display in the tent. While there are all the classic items available, there are a lot of new fireworks out for sale this year.

Ching said some people do ask about aerials and she tells them they only sell the legal fireworks.

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“We tell them there’s plenty of fun right here,” she said as she gestured to the various colorfully-boxed fireworks in the tent.

Fireworks can be set off from 9 p.m. New Year’s Eve to 1 a.m. New Year’s Day.