COVID-19 to play a role in 4th of July fire emergency responses


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Across the islands, big public firework shows have been cancelled. Fire departments say they are expecting many people to pop fireworks at their own home.

On Kauai, that celebration seems to be starting early, with some calls already coming into the Kauai Fire Department of illegal fireworks.

“The complaints I received were homemade bombs that they were making so they were making their own fireworks, louder than the ones they sell in the stores,” said Capt. Daryl Date, with the Kauai Fire Department Fire Prevention Division.

While the hazards of fireworks are the same this Fourth of July weekend as in the past, this year, the COVID-19 pandemic is another element that fire departments have to take into account when responding to a call.

That is why Date is urging folks to not only use fireworks with caution, but also keep celebrations compact.

“We know on the mainland, and even in Hawaii, the number of cases is on the rise. So, it’s a big concern… that we’d like the parties and gatherings to remain small only to close friends and family,” said Date.

He said crews will not be wearing personal protective equipment to every call. It will be up to dispatchers to check if a situation is suspected to be COVID-19 related.

However he said if folks can celebrate safely, it cuts the unnecessary risk to first responders.

“Please stay safe. Use fireworks the way it’s supposed to be used. Don’t get complacent. Take safety precautions regarding Covid-19, keep social distancing, use a mask,” said Date.

As for firework safety this weekend, Date said people should follow the instructions when igniting fireworks and keep the fireworks clear from buildings or brush, especially in drier areas like the Leeward side.

He also suggests wetting any remnants of fireworks or sparklers before throwing them away for the night.

The rules for fireworks and the 4th of July differ by each county.

On Oahu, firecrackers are allowed with a permit from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on July 4th. For more information on how you can apply for a permit, you can visit the Honolulu Fire Department’s website here.

On Kauai, fireworks are allowed on private property from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on July 4th. The deadline to purchase a permit for fireworks is July 2. For more information, you can visit Kauai County’s website here.

On Hawaii island, firecrackers are allowed to be popped with a permit from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on July 4th. Permits can be purchased by the fire department at this number: 808-932-2911. For more information, you can visit Hawaii County’s website here.

On Maui, fireworks are allowed with a permit from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on July 4th. For more information, you can visit Maui County’s website.

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