HFD pushes for complete fireworks ban as injuries increase

Local News

Many residents on Oahu chose to ring in the new year with fireworks. For some, it resulted in life-threatening injuries.

In Waialua, a man was critically injured by an aerial firework. Neighbor Hanna Gibo described what she heard.

“It was a pretty bad incident. We heard that one of the illegal fireworks, they were trying to light up and my mom said it went up to, at least to the light pole and that was pretty low,” she said. “They heard a lot of screaming.”

For firefighters and paramedics, it was a hectic night.

“We need to have a change in the way people behave and I don’t know how else to say it other than it’s just not acceptable when people use firecrackers or illegals and injure themselves,” said Battalion Chief Terry Seelig with the Honolulu Fire Department.

Many residents in Kailua say they witnessed their own fireworks show.

“There were a lot more illegals and it was quite a show at midnight,” said resident Mary Alice Woody. “We saw a flare fly into somebody’s yard.”

“Lots of, I guess you might call, mortars and then kind of the more colorful blooms or whatnot,” said resident Parker Ellenburg. “Pretty much everything you’d expect from a fireworks show.”

Whether you’re setting off legal or illegal fireworks, emergency officials say these type of injuries are preventable. That’s why the Honolulu Fire Department is advocating a full ban on consumer fireworks.

“We can talk about it until we’re blue in the face how dangerous these fireworks are, but until it’s your loved one, until it’s you’re neighbor, people aren’t going to stop,” said Shayne Enright, Emergency Medical Services spokeswoman.

“If people don’t understand our messages on safety, maybe that’s part of the problem,” Seelig said. “Maybe there’s other issues, but we think the solution is to eliminate this, to not have the opportunity to hurt themselves.”

Under the current law, all aerials and consumer fireworks, like sparklers and fountains, are banned on Oahu. The only ones you can legally set off are firecrackers, which are purchased with a permit.

New Year’s Eve/Day incidents at a glance:

2014: Dec 31, 7 p.m. to Jan 1, 7 a.m.

Assaults: 21

Difficulty breathing: 12

Firework injuries: 10

2013: Dec 31, 7 p.m. to Jan 1, 7 a.m.

Assaults: 15

Difficulty breathing: 11

Firework injuries: 2

The following are a few of the incidents emergency crews responded to:

8:28 p.m. – Kailua

Male, 40, serious

Patient suffered burns to his leg after trying to light a bonfire.

8:31 p.m. – Kuhi St., Waialua

Male, 44, critical

EMS treated patient for a critical injury to the face when an aerial firework went off. Patient transported to the trauma center.

9:39 p.m. – Waimanalo

Male, 6, parental refuses

Mother brought patient to the Waimanalo unit after he was injured by a popper to the eye.

12:04 a.m. – Waipahu

Male, 48, minor

EMS treated and transported patient injured by firework to face.

12:10 a.m. – Waianae

Male, 22, serious

Patient brought to a Waianae hospital by personal vehicle for injury to eye from an aerial firework which exploded in a PVC pipe. EMS treated and transported him to trauma center.

12:34 a.m.

Male, 18, serious

Patient was looking down the tube of an aerial firework when he was shot in the eye. Patient transported to hospital by personal vehicle and then EMS transported to an ER.

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