Should Hawaii have a fireworks ban?

Illustration: Carter Klassen · The Sentry

Illustration: Carter Klassen · The Sentry

prohibition didn’t work for a reason

Opinion by Kaia Stallings

In June of 2011, a fireworks ban was implemented in Hawaii. Since then, almost nothing has changed. The ban has put more people in danger than it has helped. Most of the fireworks and aerials obtained by locals every year are illegal and not safely manufactured. As a result, many people get injured and unfortunately some even lose their lives. Rather than tweaking the rules to ensure the residents stay safe, government officials keep their silence as people continue to buy dangerous fireworks. Shouldn’t the safety of locals and their children be a top priority?  

Remember in 1920 when the United States government decided to ban alcohol from being made or consumed? Remember how that didn’t work at all? Bootlegging appeared, secret bars were littered all throughout the country, and people were still finding ways to get demolished with bootleg liquor. It got to the point where the government decided to end the ban and put laws in place to make sure people were enjoying their beverages safely. It seems like Hawaii is finding itself in the same situation.  

This year there were 32 wildland fires that Oahu fire department responded to on New Year’s. Out of those, only six were determined to be caused by fireworks. That’s only 18% of the overall total of fires. Obviously, these statistics can’t be ignored, and it only takes one fire to get out of control to destroy everything; however, what also can’t be ignored are the various accidents that continue to be an issue every year. In 2012, a year after the ban was implemented, there were 9 firework-related incidents; a year later in 2013, the number was 7. 

Another crucial point is that no one has died from any firework-related fire in Hawaii, however in 2017 a woman in Kapolei on Oahu lost her life after an illegal aerial went off before she could reach a safe distance. 

After a certain point, it can no longer be ignored that the ban hasn’t been listened to or followed since going into effect 9 years ago. It would be a wise choice to lift the ban completely and ensure that the people who choose to use fireworks during the holidays are doing so safely. If firework laws were put into place it would make it much easier to crack down on the illegally-manufactured fireworks that continue to injure people every year.  

measures to prevent fires should be taken

Opinion by Benjamin Neufeld

There is an island in the Pacific Ocean that has lost an estimated 2,000 homes, an estimated one billion animal lives, and an estimated 25 human lives. All the result of wildfires which have affected 25 million acres of land. In that same ocean is another island, or rather chain of islands. And these islands, called Hawaii, are made of volcanoes (that is, a kind of mountain which every so often shoots out the on-fire materials of the inner Earth). 

Apparently, a state with five active volcanoes is enough fire and explosions for the Hawaiian state government. The legislature enforces a strict firework ban, allowing only certain fireworks to be bought or set off during certain periods. 

Amid one of the worst wildfires Australia has ever seen and just after a devastating wildfire season in California, a firework ban—in Hawaii or anywhere there’s vegetation to burn—seems like an obvious preventative measure. According to the National Park Service, “nearly 85% of forest fires are caused by humans.” 

Of course, fireworks alone are not responsible for the apocalyptic forest and bush fires that ignite with more and more viciousness each year. Rising global temperatures, extended periods of drought, and unpredictable weather patterns have raised the ceiling for how destructive fires can become. But, as world governments continue to push off the pursuit of climate change solutions, states with ignitable land should pursue any solutions they can. 

And, Hawaiian land is ignitable. According to an article from Honolulu civil beat “The mean annual area burned in Hawaii from 2005 to 2011 accounted for 0.48 % of Hawaii’s total land area, which was greater than the proportion of land area burned across the entire U.S. mainland (0.30%).” Guinea grass, an invasive plant species, can grow six inches per day on the islands, providing a replenishing fuel source for fires. 

Considering these conditions and the still coming Australian bushfire horror stories, the islands, and perhaps the rest of the kindled world, would do well to curb their pyromania until things cool down a bit.

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