High cost for illegal fireworks

DMP is reminding people that it is illegal to possess and use fireworks in WA without an appropriate licence.
Date: Tuesday, 06 December 2016

Possessing or setting off illegal fireworks could cost you not only big dollars but also your or someone else's life.

With the start of the festive season, the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) is reminding the community that it is illegal to own or use fireworks in Western Australia without an appropriate licence.

Over the Christmas and New Year period last year, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services reported that six fires were started by people setting off illegal fireworks.

This included two on New Year's Day, one which came close to homes in Secret Harbour and another that threated homes near Albany.

DMP Dangerous Goods Team Leader Erin James said the dangers of fireworks have been well publicised, but less well known are the substantial fines people can face for illegally possessing fireworks.

"In one case last year Western Australian Police charged an individual for illegally possessing and storing a single commercial firework," Miss James said.

"They were subsequently fined $6000 by the courts. This reflects the seriousness of the offence and highlights the inherent danger of fireworks when they are not in the hands of professionals.

"The consequences can range from personal injury or death from mishandling fireworks to starting a bush or house fire after setting them off.

"Ultimately, you are not only putting your own life at risk, but potentially the lives of others as well."

Since January 2012, 155 people and companies have been charged with fireworks offences in WA.

DMP Dangerous Goods officers monitor approved firework events to ensure they are conducted safely.

"These displays are set up and run by trained professionals who understand the risks fireworks pose and put in the appropriate controls to mitigate these risks," Miss James said.

Such events are established in conjunction with local councils, Police and fire and emergency services to ensure contingency plans are in place to protect the public.

During total fire bans, licensed pyrotechnics must apply for an exemption from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

Pyrotechnic displays, such as fireworks, are not low risk activities. They can have a significant impact on the community if not managed and attract significant penalties for illegal use.

The department has information on the storage, transport and handling of fireworks as well as a list of approved fireworks events on its website.