The HIRSC Team has begun to hear numerous complaints/reports about illegal fireworks use around the Island of Hawaii.
Published by: HIRSC - Hawaii Island (Islandwide) Team
The HIRSC Team on Hawaii Island has begun to hear reports of illegal fireworks use around Hawaii Island being aired to Hawaii Police Department (HPD) Officers, with the earliest reports coming in as early as November 15th according to HIRSC Team Scanner Log.
Many reports have been heard and recorded in the Hilo, Puna, Hamakua, South Kohala, and North Kona districts on Hawaii Island. While the earliest report/complaint came as early as November 15th this year, on the evening of Thanksgiving 2020 (November 26th), the HIRSC Team heard approximately 25 complaints/calls broadcast with a majority of the calls concentrated in the Kalaoa, Waimea, Honoka'a, Hilo, and Paradise Park areas on the island.
Since the 2020 Thanksgiving holiday, we hear on average about 5-7 calls/complaints for illegal fireworks around the island on daily basis. Most of the complaints reported are heard in the districts of Puna, Hilo, North Kona, and South Kohala. A few of our HIRSC Team members in Holualoa, Kalaoa, and Hilo have also heard occasionally a firework going off around their neighborhood at least once a night since the Thanksgiving holiday.
HIRSC - Hawaii Island team says that illegal fireworks complaints usually begin to pour in around Thanksgiving evening and continue on until the 2nd week and weekend of January in the new year according to previous scanner logs dated for the 2018 and 2019 New Year's festivities.
On the evenings of Thursday, December 24th and Friday, December 25th, The HIRSC Team on Hawaii Island heard an average of 5 complaints per hour (until 11:30 pm each evening) in the districts of North Kona, South Kohala, Hamakua, South Hilo, Puna, and Ka'ū. In some instances, some of the complaints were all related, however, numerous residents were calling in a report. This is a normal trend and an uptick in complaints usually comes in the week before (beginning December 24th) leading into the New Year's holiday when consumer fireworks go on sale.
Unfortunately with the activity that occurred in Kailua-Kona on the evening of Thursday, December 24th, a used illegal firework shell (approximately 4-inches in diameter) caused not only damage to a photovoltaic (PV) solar panel on our HIRSC Founder and Administrator rooftop but also caused major damage to a custom-built rooftop antenna used for the West Hawaii Scanner Feed, leading to a very prolong and costly outage, leaving many West Hawaii listeners in the dark.
Damage assessment completed by our administrator and team members found the shell caused a total of $615 (including the PV panel, antenna, wiring, and mounts), most of the damage has since been repaired, however, the antenna was not able to be salvaged/repaired and a new antenna has been ordered (through the same manufacturer) and expected to arrive late December 31st, 2020 with scanner feed restoration on Friday, January 1st, 2021.
Hawaii Island officials confirmed that they have received complaints and reports around the island and remind residents that the legal hours to set consumer fireworks off during the New Year's holiday is from 9:00 pm on 12/31 to 1:00 am 1/1. However, Hawaii Island officials would not go into details if any citations were issued or arrest was made for the possession or sales of illegal fireworks.
HPD put out a Nixle message to Hawaii Island residents regarding illegal aerial fireworks:
Hawaiʻi Island police, concerned about illegal aerial fireworks, are asking for the public’s assistance in reporting information about the location of these dangerous and illegal pyrotechnic devices, as well as the identity of people in possession of them.
It is unlawful for any person without a valid permit to set off aerial fireworks. People who violate this law could be found guilty of a misdemeanor or Class C felony.
Hawai‘i Island residents who obtain a pyrotechnic permit may only set off fireworks between 9 p.m. New Year’s Eve, Friday, December 31, and 1 a.m. New Year’s Day, Saturday, January 1, 2021. Even with a fireworks permit, it is against the law to set off fireworks at any other time during the holiday season.
Please remember that anyone igniting aerial pyrotechnic displays risk not only their lives but also the lives of loved ones nearby and potentially neighbors as well.
Anyone having information about the location of illegal fireworks is asked to call the police department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or 911 if it is an emergency situation.
However, the HIRSC Team believes with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantines/lockdowns, canceled professional firework shows planned, and restrictions that occurred earlier this year, many Hawaii residents are expected to go all out for this new year's celebrations leading into 2021, releasing that pent-up energy that been building up in many related to this year's event.
This same trend had happened in the Mainland U.S. during the 4th of July as many professional fireworks shows were canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, many residents began purchase fireworks to ring in the 4th of July holiday, many were setting off fireworks days before the actual holiday forcing some cities to take drastic action against them. Many fireworks manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers say they saw probably the highest sales in years and causing many places to run out of inventory.
In Hawaii, illegal fireworks complaints are usually higher towards the New Year's holidays and relatively quiet during the 4th of July holidays, whereas in the U.S. Mainland, the opposite trend happens, 4th of July is the busiest, and New Year's holiday is fairly quiet.