There’s nothing wrong with fireworks, as long as they’re used safely and under the supervision of a responsible adult.
Problem is, all too often, neither of those conditions is met when fireworks are detonated, launched, and blown up — statistics show that only about 20 per cent of fireworks discharges are properly supervised, according to Chief Russ Inouye of the Squamish Fire Rescue Service. That’s an appalling number that shows either a lack of regard for the dangers posed by spark-emitting, burning, flying and exploding objects by the adults who are supposed to be in charge, but too often, are nowhere to be found. If that’s true of our down, perhaps the best option IS to ban their use by all but the professionals.
But hold on: There has to be room for compromise here. We like Coun. Ron Sander’s suggestion that the District of Squamish consider issuing permits for neighbourhood displays to groups that pledge to ensure that they’re properly supervised and that fire-prevention precautions are taken. A finding of non-compliance with basic safety precautions could result in, say, a five-year ban on any new permits being issued to the applicants. Perhaps applicants could be required to take a 30-minute fireworks safety course before receiving their permit.
During his presentation to council last week, Chief Inouye failed to make a compelling case for an outright ban. Sure, most Lower Mainland communities have banned the detonation of fireworks inside their boundaries, and we’re sure the chief could provide a long and graphic list of instances where fireworks use has resulted in serious injuries or damaging fires.
But no such information was presented. Statistically, has the incidence of injury and fires been significantly reduced elsewhere since the bans were put in place?
Enforcement, of course, is going to be an issue no matter what local officials do. This writer has long believed that a law that’s not enforceable is not worth having, and in this case, we think Coun. Bryan Raiser is right: Banning them outright is both unenforceable and no fun. We’d like to think there are ways of reducing the frequency of injuries and fires while providing opportunities for groups of friends and neighbours to enjoy a sparkling Canada Day or Halloween display.
— David Burke