Last Fourth of July, the Maui County Fire Department responded to 73 fireworks-related calls - about the average number for the past three years.
The department hopes that that number doesn't rise this year and is asking residents to exercise caution and to follow the law when setting off fireworks on the holiday celebrating the birth of the nation.
Beginning Friday, residents will be able to purchase novelty fireworks at stores around the county. No store will be selling firecrackers.
There is no need to purchase a permit to buy novelty fireworks.
By law, fireworks only may be set off from 1 to 9 p.m. on July 4. Fire officials have said that setting off fireworks outside the permitted time may result in fines of up to $2,000.
Noting that the county has already seen its share of brush fires with summer just beginning, Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga said that fireworks users should make sure that the area is clear of combustible materials and vegetation before playing.
Displays to fill sky
* Tuesday, 8 p.m., War Memorial Complex, in conjunction with Hale Mahaolu's 45th Anniversary celebration and private All American Picnic for its staff and family and Maui veterans.
* Wednesday, 8 p.m., viewing along Front Street and Lahaina area, sponsored by Maui Chamber of Commerce. Radio station 99.9 KISS FM will have a simultaneous music broadcast.
"Adult supervision is required at all times. Be sure to have a readily accessible means to douse any unwanted fires," he added.
Earlier this month, the National Fire Protection Agency released a fireworks report, which explored fire and injury dangers related to consumer fireworks. The report said that in 2010 alone, an estimated 15,500 reported fires were started by fireworks and 8,600 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. emergency rooms.
There are more fires on a typical Fourth of July than any other day of the year in the country, the report said. Fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fire on that day, a news release from the agency said.
The NFPA and the American Academy of Pediatrics founded the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks to warn individuals about the dangers of fireworks and to urge the public to view displays put on by trained professionals instead.
On Maui, there will be two public fireworks displays. (See related box).
In Maui County for the past three years, Mainaga said that the calls related to fireworks on the Fourth of July were almost on par with New Year's Eve. In 2009, there were 75 fireworks-related calls on July 4; on New Year's Eve 2009, there were 81 fireworks-related calls. In 2010, July 4 saw 86 calls and 85 calls on Dec. 31.
Last year, there were 73 calls on July 4 and 113 calls on Dec. 31.
Besides playing with fireworks, people also should take precautions while barbecuing, another Fourth of July tradition. According to the federal government, an estimated 5,700 grill fires occur on residential properties annually in the country.
The government advises that propane and charcoal barbecue grills only be used outdoors. People should position the grill away from siding, deck railings, and overhanging branches and out from under eaves.
Children and pets should be kept away from the grill area. The government advises establishing a 3-foot "kid-free zone."
Some prohibitions regarding fireworks:
* Do not remove or extract pyrotechnic contents.
* Do not throw any ignited fireworks from a moving vehicle.
* Do not set off fireworks within 1,000 feet of health care facilities and facilities for animals.
* Do not set off fireworks near or at schools, public roads, county parks, county facilities, cane fields or places of worship.
* Do not set off fireworks within 500 feet of a hotel without a permit.
It's a Class C felony to set off aerial or other illegal fireworks or to import or sell fireworks without a permit. The charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, fire officials said.
Some safety tips:
* Children must be supervised at all times.
* Keep a hose or bucket of water nearby to douse any fires.
* Follow the directions on the fireworks for approved use.
* Exercise common courtesy and clean up trash when done.
* Do not use fireworks outside of the permitted time.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.