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Parliament body mulls fixed time for fireworks display

Monday, December 18, 2017
Chief executive officer, FireOne Fireworks FX Ltd, Andre Abraham during Friday’s meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Social Services and Public Administration at the Parliament’s Building in Port-of-Spain. Photo by:Office of the Parliament

The largest fireworks importer in the country FireOne Fireworks is recommending Parliament consider regulations for specific days and times for setting off fireworks— in what the company believes may be a win-win situation for everyone.

CEO Andrew Abraham appeared before Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on Social Services and Public Administration on Friday telling the committee that the “law that governing the fireworks industry is an explosive law that is 100-years-old and has not kept up with the industry.”

It was committee member Christine Newallo-Hosein who raised the idea asking Abraham whether he felt regulations governing fireworks in this country should mirror that of the UK which outlines provisions for fixed times for the display and use of fireworks.

Abraham responded, “definitely yes to that.”

He said “having fireworks set off on specific days and times will solve everybody’s problems, it will make the jobs of the Police and Fire Services easier as they will not have to distinguish whether it is legal or not. Once it is set off outside of the time they can act on it. All it will require is a neighbour to take a picture.”

This, he said, would be a “win-win scenario. The people who love fireworks if we give them a couple of hours on Old Year’s night, Divali, Independence, just a couple of hours then people who have pets and senior members of society can make provisions.”

But he said this will require that the law be strict enough, “if you break the law there must be a consequence and people will obey it. Right now what is the consequence? The police running down somebody who lighting fireworks, they get a small fine. It needs to be stricter,” he said.

Chairman of the committee Dr Dhanayshar Mahabir requested that Abraham submit his company’s recommendations to regulate fireworks use to the body. He noted that Parliament had the power “to ban fireworks altogether.”

But Abraham said that would be a mistake, “if there were an outright on fireworks,” he said, “we will go back to 1994 where illegal items take over the market and a product that is not safe gets into the consumer’s hands and an entire black market is created.”

Mahabir noted that “right now the options are not working for citizens. The decibel levels are not working for persons and last year the police reported there was a fire in Port-of-Spain where a (handicapped) person died. It is unacceptable. We need to address what we can do to ensure that is not repeated.”

In addition, he said, “someone lost a finger with a scratch bomb, the devices are now causing harm. We want to ensure the harm experienced by the population can be minimised.” He said the Summary Offences Act states cruelty to animals is an offence, he said in reference to complaints from animal rights activists about the dangers posed by fireworks to animals.

Acting Commissioner of Police Deodat Dulalchan admitted that regulation is important, “for us to bring it under control.”

Regulating the use, he said, could also take into consideration whether “if you purchase fireworks whether it is an offence to keep it in your possession or whether it should be taken back to the dealer.”

He said the police are hampered in their investigations despite complaints about noise because when they respond people are wary of giving information.

People who are affected by fireworks, he said, should call the police hotline 999, he said.

The CEO of the Environmental Management Authority says the authority has no jurisdiction over fireworks but is responsible for noise pollution and people who have complaints about noise can contact the hotline at 680-9588. That hotline he said is 24/7.


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