With the Independence Day holiday nearly upon us, fire and police officials remind the public of the do’s and don’ts of the time honored tradition of setting off pyrotechnics. Or better yet, leave the show to the pros.
Consumer fireworks may be purchased beginning on Tuesday, June 29, and ending on Sunday, July 4, at 8 p.m. at various retailers around the island. According to American Promotional Events/TNT who will supply these retailers, there will be no paper firecrackers available for sale this year. Paper fireworks have previously required the purchase of a permit.
Big Island residents who have firecrackers on hand and would like to set them off during this time may purchase a permit from the fire department by calling 808-932-2911 to set up an appointment.
Permits are not required for novelties and paperless firecrackers. Firecrackers (with a valid permit) and consumer fireworks are allowed to be set off during the approved hours of 1 to 9 p.m. on July 4 only.
HFD advised that it is unlawful to buy, sell, possess, or set off any aerial luminary device such as sky lanterns and Hawaii lanterns. Any person in possession of any aerial luminary device who would like to dispose of them with amnesty should contact the Fire Department at 932-2911.
Hawaii Fire Department Chief Kazuo Todd reinforced that it is illegal for anyone to remove the powder or pyrotechnic contents from any firework, throw firework from a vehicle, set off any firework at any time not within the time period allowed or within 1,000 feet of any operating hospital, nursing home, home for the elderly, or animal hospital. It is also illegal to set off fireworks in or on any school building or property or any highway, alley, street, sidewalk, or other public way, in any park, or within 1,000 feet of a church during the periods when services are held.
It is also prohibited to offer for sale, sell, or give any firework to minors, and for any minor to possess, sell, set off, ignite, or otherwise cause to explode any firework, except under the immediate supervision of an adult. Parent’s, guardians or responsible adults can be charged if this is not followed.
Aerial fireworks are prohibited unless a valid permit is obtained, and Hawaii Island police are asking for the public’s assistance in reporting information about the location of these dangerous and illegal pyrotechnic devices, as well as the identity of people in possession of them. People who violate this law could be found guilty of a misdemeanor or Class C felony. Anyone having information about the location of illegal fireworks is asked to call the police department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or 911 if it is an emergency situation.
The county is also closing Waipio Valley Access Road to non-Waipio residents over the long weekend. According to county officials, residents requested the closure, citing traffic and health concerns as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Guards will be positioned at the top of the road throughout the weekend to ensure compliance.
“Closing the valley access road to nonresidents will help us ensure the health and safety of the Waipio Valley community as we head into the long weekend,” Mayor Mitch Roth said. “We have to remember that we are at the final stretch of this pandemic, and we cannot afford to trip at the finish line. By avoiding large gatherings this Fourth of July, we can ensure that we will be able to have much larger gatherings next Fourth of July.
“Getting our families and friends back together is a top priority, but we have to do it safely.”
The Hawaii Fire Department also asks everyone to do their part to prevent fires and injuries caused by fireworks.
When setting off pyrotechnics, have a water hose connected to a water source or a fire extinguisher readily available. Wet down surrounding brush prior to setting off firework if need be.
Children playing with fireworks shall be under adult supervision at all times. Even the smallest of fireworks can cause severe and sometimes fatal injuries. The department also encourages keeping a first aid kit close in case of minor injuries.
Fireworks should be set off in a safe area away from dry grass, buildings, vehicles, and flammable materials. This is especially important due to dry conditions around the island. Dispose of used fireworks properly by soaking in water prior to disposal.
“There is always some fear brushfires can ignite from firework sparks,” said Assistant Fire Chief Darwin Okinaka. “The fuel load is there and weather patterns make the conditions dangerous.”
Anyone interested in disposing of unwanted or damaged fireworks or scheduling an appointment to obtain a permit can call the Fire Prevention Bureau at 932- 2911 for further information to schedule a pick-up. Please do not drop off fireworks at local fire stations.
“We want everybody to be safe and stay safe,” said Okinaka.
Many pets are frightened by the loud noises from fireworks. The Hawaii Island Humane Society Chief Executive Officer Lauren Nickerson offers some advice for pet owners.
“Prior to the big event, pet parents should consult with their veterinarian to see if they can recommend and prescribe any calming aids or medications,” she said. “This is important to do in advance as many veterinary clinics are incredibly busy at this time of year.”
She recommends bringing pets indoors and provide them with a safe space where they can retreat as needed. When scared, many dogs can and will jump fences and run away, putting them at risk and in danger. Be sure to close windows and turn on the TV and use a white noise machine to block out the noises outdoors. And comfort your pet if they are fearful.
In case your pet does escape, make sure they are microchipped and are wearing proper identification.
Kailua-Kona fireworks display
Sponsored by Rotary Club of Kona Sunrise and the Kailua-Kona Community Parade Association, Hawaii Explosives and Pyrotechnics will be putting on this year’s display from Old Kona Airport Park Sunday, July 4 at 8:30 p.m.
The West Hawaii County Band will play one hour prior to the fireworks in the Maka‘eo Main Events Pavilion. Those attending may listen outside the building. Chairs and blankets are welcome, with 6-foot social distancing enforced.
With fireworks being ignited on the runway, traffic restrictions will be put in place. The north end of the park including the old runway, Makaeo Walking Path, skatepark, canoe hales, beach pavilions, the shoreline, and Pawai Bay will be closed to all unauthorized access from Saturday, July 3 at 8 p.m. through Monday, July 5 at 7 a.m.
The county allocated $15,000 for the $37,000 display. The remaining balance is covered by generous donations from individuals and businesses. As of Friday, the Parade Association indicated they still needed $9,000 to cover the cost of the show.
Anyone wishing to make a donation should visit www.paradesinkona.com