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New Zealand Is Ready For A Fireworks Retail Ban

New Zealand Is Ready For A Fireworks Retail Ban


New Zealand Police National News Release
11:14am 18 October 2006
http://www.police.govt.nz/news/release.html?id=2715

The New Zealand public is ready for a ban on the retail sale of fireworks, says Fire Service chief executive/national commander Mike Hall, who is calling for a ban from 2007 on.

Three successive public opinion surveys from BRC Research have shown that a majority of New Zealanders support a retail ban, while nine out of ten people support some increase to the current restrictions.

Mr Hall says the Fire Service's decision to call for a ban - while still supporting public fireworks displays - makes sense on a number of levels.

"The increasing incidence of fireworks-related fires year-on-year is taking firefighters away from legitimate call-outs. The more fireworks fires we have, the more chance someone can't be reached in a genuine emergency.

"Last year we asked for public debate on the issue of fireworks sales to the public. After the worst Guy Fawkes in 10 years, the public response, through letters, petitions and polls, was overwhelming: we are ready for a ban.

"From my point of view as head of the Fire Service, I see it as putting explosive and incendiary devices in the hands of 14 year olds, and I don't support it."

Mr Hall says Fire Service is just one of a growing number of organisations calling for ban.

"The New Zealand Police support our call and all of the organisations that make up the National Rural Fire Advisory Committee - local governments, the Department of Conservation, Federated Farmers, the Defence Force and private forest owners as well as the National Rural Fire Authority - have put their weight behind a ban."

He says New Zealand is also out of step with other western countries - particularly Australia, in our attitude to fireworks sales.

Inspector Marc Paynter from the Police National Headquarters says the Police's backing of a ban this year is for the same reasons they stated last year.

"It is always a minority of people who behave irresponsibly, but they are taking increasing amounts of time to handle, and causing increasing amounts of damage before they are brought to our attention.

"Public displays are well organised, safe and spectacular. We would prefer to put our resources into policing them, rather than dealing with pockets of mayhem in the suburbs."

Inspector Paynter says the fireworks-related incidents last year ranged from about 240 exploded letterboxes, to fireworks being shot at people, animals and gas stations.

In the 10-day period last year when fireworks were legally for sale (October 27 to November 5) firefighters attended over 700 fireworks-related fires while

Police attended nearly 1200 fireworks-related incidents.

A BRC research poll before November 2005 showed 54 percent of people supported a retail ban. This figure grew to 66 percent in a December 2005 survey and a retail ban had 61 percent support as recently as June.

While fireworks remain legally for sale in 2006, the Fire Service, Police, ERMA New Zealand and the Ministry for the Environment are promoting a safety message which includes a website giving details of public fireworks displays around New Zealand as well as tips on using fireworks safely and how to report misuse.

A special website www.GuyFawkes2006.govt.nz, hosted by ERMA, has been established to provide access to the information.

Ends

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