Fire Service, SPCA concerned as fireworks hit shelves

  • 02/11/2015

With a bid to ban fireworks falling short in Parliament, the Fire Service and SPCA are calling for people to flag buying their own sparklers and roman candles in favour of public displays this Guy Fawkes.

Fireworks hit the shelves this week and are legally allowed to be sold over the four days from today to the holiday on Thursday.

And while that will be a cause of celebration for many, some think private sales of fireworks is causing unnecessary danger all year round.

The Fire Service said it received about 300 fireworks-related callouts each year and about two thirds of last year's 268 were in November.

In 2006, before the sales restrictions were put in place, that number was about 650.

National Risk Reduction Manager Rob Saunders said there were several close calls last year, with five garages and houses catching fire.

The best option in terms of safety was for people to go to public displays, he said.

The SPCA is delivering a similar message, saying it still wants a total ban on private sales of fireworks.

Its chief executive, Ric Odom, said the real danger of private sales was people keeping fireworks and letting them off throughout the year.

"Even though fireworks are only meant to be on sale a few days before Guy Fawkes, people let these things off well before and well after," he said.

He said the SPCA didn't want to ban public displays because pet owners had warning of when they would happen and could take appropriate action to make sure their animals weren't stressed or panicked.

He said the failure of a 25,000-signature petition to sway Parliament into banning private sale hadn't lessened the SPCA's belief that eventually the practice would be banned.

Vet Jonathan Robinson said there were a number of things pet owners could do to help their pets during fireworks, including turning on loud music of a TV, making sure they had a full stomach beforehand to encourage sleep, keeping them inside, and particularly covering cages for smaller pets.

Source: Environmental Protection Authority