Brian Kelly - Fireworks displays better for all


Let me firstly applaud Tauranga's Mayor, Stuart Crosby, and the general manager of Baypark Speedway Ltd, Ervin McSweeney, for making the tough decision to cancel the annual fireworks display at tonight's opening meeting of Bay Park Speedway.

The opening night fireworks spectacular has always been a popular family event and I am sure it will be in the future, but with the rescued sea birds being cared for just next door to the speedway track the decision is completely understandable. The birds would have been subjected to incredibly loud noises of exploding fireworks and the bright flashing effects of rockets.

This brings up the argument that comes up this time every year. Should fireworks be banned from public sale and only public displays held?<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

I certainly back the organised displays. I have three children, the oldest being 28, and our family has never gone out and bought fireworks. We instead have always gone along to organised events at Guy Fawkes.

Every year for as long as the kids have been around we have attended the annual St Mary's School Fireworks spectacular. It is a well-organised family night out and on top of that it's a much needed fundraiser for the school. It's also an opportunity to catch up with friends and meet new ones. We as a family have always had a great time and not once have our children asked to buy fireworks.

There are other similar school events around the Bay at this time and I think that is a great way to celebrate Guy Fawkes. Mind you I do find it a bizarre tradition that we celebrate the attempted blowing up of the British House of Parliament.

The Fire Service must dread this weekend. I know they continue to encourage people to make the most of public fireworks displays. Since the law on the sale of fireworks changed in 2007, raising the legal purchase age from 14 to 18, reducing the sale period to four days and also limiting the noise level to 90 decibels there has been a dramatic reduction in emergency call out involving fireworks according to the National Fire Service Commander, Mike Hall.

Fewer people are buying fireworks, although you would wonder about that statistic when you see the number of retail outlets selling them.

It does concern me to see lots of family groups walking out of shopping centres with large boxes of fireworks in their trolleys.

The amount of fireworks imported into the country this year is up on last year - 1135 tonnes have been imported this year compared with 1116 last year.

One would hope that most of them are going into organised public displays.

ACC injury claims from fireworks have dropped 40 per cent from 461 to 275 since 2007's regulation changes but that number is way too high.

Spare a thought also for the animals, as our mayor has done. The SPCA must dread this time of year as well. How many dogs and cats have run away on Guy Fawkes night or horses that have been spooked and injured themselves?

I read an interesting online comment from someone during the week that said they were sick of not knowing when some idiot is going to let fireworks off randomly and in the process terrify theirs and other people's animals and livestock. The letter went on to say the sooner they are banned from public sale the better.

If you are going to let off fireworks this weekend watch your safety and heed the warnings from the Fire Service.

Just take care and have a good night and, if you possible can, attend one of the local organised events.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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