- Tuesday, 28 December 2021 at 11:14 pm
Victorians are urged to stay safe and steer clear of celebrating the New Year with illegal fireworks.
After another challenging year, many are ready to bid farewell to 2021 under a sparkling sky. But unauthorised fireworks displays are illegal and can have catastrophic consequences.
It is a crime for anyone other than licensed pyrotechnicians to use or possess fireworks, which are classed as a type of explosive under the Dangerous Goods Act.
With Victoria having eased COVID-19 restrictions, WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer is encouraging people to attend official fireworks displays only.
“Spectacular fireworks displays are being prepared across Victoria,” Dr Beer said. “There’s absolutely no reason why anyone should be tempted to risk using fireworks themselves.”
“Not only do those who possess fireworks illegally face imprisonment and hefty fines, but they’re risking their life and the lives of those around them.”
In 2021, WorkSafe destroyed 731 kilograms of fireworks that were seized or surrendered, compared with 626 kilograms in 2020.
There have been no fireworks-related fatalities in Victoria since 2016.
Fireworks-related injuries have reduced according to the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit at Monash University. Thirteen people presented at emergency departments in the 2020-21 financial year, compared to 17 in the previous 12 months.
Of the 116 people treated at emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in the five years to June 2021, 75 per cent were male and more than a third were aged in their 20s.
Fire Rescue Victoria Commissioner Ken Block said firefighters responded to 163 incidents involving fireworks in the past five years.
“Some of these fires have resulted in severe injuries, significant damage to property and even disruptions to the public transport network,” Commissioner Block said.
“Many of the incidents were started by children and teens, so I urge all parents to talk to their children about the dangers of fireworks.”
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said firefighters were called to more than a dozen fires and explosions across the state during the 2019 and 2020 end of year celebrations.
“Every year, our volunteer firefighters have to leave their friends and families on New Year’s Eve to attend unnecessary vegetation fires caused by illegal fireworks,” Chief Officer Heffernan said.
“We urge anyone tempted to use illegal fireworks to consider the risk they are exposing their own families and neighbours too.”
Information about the sale or use of illegal fireworks can be reported to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or by submitting a confidential crime report here: www.crimestoppersvic.com.au/report-a-crime/