Ask the Mayor: What is Being Done About Illegal Fireworks?

December 18, 2016, 12:55 PM HST · Updated December 18, 1:05 PM
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Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his office staff.

Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at [email protected], 270-7855 or mail them to 200 S. High Street, 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

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Aloha Mayor,

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Q: Every year from Halloween until after New Year’s Eve, people in my neighborhood and in Waiehu Terrace light aerial fireworks at least once a night, every night.

I thought aerials were outlawed. Who is selling these fireworks illegally? Where are these people getting them?

Tonight two aerials were lit off from Waiehu Terrace around 9:30 p.m. It’s a Monday night, kids are asleep and people have to work tomorrow. It’s time to outlaw ALL fireworks, because a few people can’t respect the rest of the community.

A: While you might be in favor of a total ban on fireworks, there would likely be others in our community who would be opposed to such a measure.

Currently, the use of aerial fireworks is illegal without the acquisition of a proper use permit and a trained pyrotechnic technician. The setting off of non-aerial fireworks is also illegal if not used within the allowed periods for use or without an approved permit for use outside the allowed use-periods.

As to where the illegal fireworks as coming from, Fire officials say they are bought from states that legally sell them throughout the year. The most likely way that illegal fireworks get into Hawai‘i is by shipping them in unmarked containers or through undeclared mail, both of which are illegal and dangerous.

Not only is it challenging to prosecute unless violations are directly observed, it is very difficult to inspect every container or parcel that comes into the islands, according to shipping companies and the U.S. Postal Service. Some of the illegal product is caught when being brought in, but then it is difficult to prosecute the importer.

There is no easy answer to this complex issue, but it is one that deserves further attention by lawmakers and by members of the community who wish to give our existing laws more teeth.

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