We were all brought up on cautionary tales featuring misbehaving children who lost a finger or two while playing with illicit firecrackers. But humans remain fascinated by things that blow up, especially if accompanied by pretty lights and alarming noises. (For an interesting history of fireworks parties in Vancouver, check out this Vancity Buzz article.)
While a typical neighbourhood fireworks party can’t match the pyrotechnics of the international fireworks competition held in English Bay each summer, they do have the advantage of neighbourhood bonding, hot chocolate, proximity – and readily available Halloween candy, purloined from your kids’ bags while they’re distracted by the lights.
But there are a number of things to consider if you want your block party to go off with a bang. First off, stay on the right side of the law – check out the North Van District fireworks bylaws if you want chapter and verse. You’ll note there’s a $200 fine for setting off fireworks without a permit. You’ll also note that Section 5 reads “No person shall possess, fire, set off or discharge firecrackers” – they are illegal, period, permit or no.
Captain Ben Wilson of the North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services team has told us that the permit to purchase, possess, and discharge fireworks will be available online mid-October and will be advertised through their website and social media streams such as their Facebook page.
He notes: “The permit allows residents to purchase, possess, and discharge consumer fireworks on private property, with the authorization of the property owner, between 6 p.m. and midnight on October 31, 2015. The discharge of fireworks is not permitted in or on public property such as parks, roadways, and cul-de-sacs. Persons discharging fireworks are required to have liability insurance as well.”
Once you’ve obtained a permit (and you have to be 19 or over to do so), you can purchase your fireworks from a reputable dealer (the kind that will only sell you fireworks if you have a permit!) Watch for pop-up shops going up in North Vancouver – they are usually well advertised in the newspaper and via billboards.
Remember that those fireworks are for you, the adult, to set off – not to hand over to your kids, no matter how much they beg. We’ve all seen kids rampaging through the neighbourhood on the night of the 31st, armed with a backpack full of pyrotechnics, dangerous not just to themselves and others but able to cause fire and property damage, as well. (Damage in Vancouver City runs up to $500,000 on some years.)
“It would be a significant benefit to all emergency responders an the safety of the community if adults would not purchase fireworks on behalf of minors. It is illegal and the individual could face significant fines,” states Cpt. Wilson.
Adults aren’t always great at following the rules that come along with fireworks either, we must admit. These safety tips are from Natural Resources Canada’s website:
PEOPLE UNDER 18 YEARS OLD who use fireworks must be supervised by an adult.
CHOOSE a wide, clear site away from all obstacles. Refer to the safety instructions on the fireworks label for minimum distances from spectators.
DO NOT FIRE IN WINDY CONDITIONS.
READ all instructions on the fireworks. PLAN the order of firing before you begin.
USE A GOOD FIRING BASE such as a pail filled with earth or sand.
BURY fireworks that do not have a base HALFWAY in a container of earth or sand (such as a pail, box or wheelbarrow) unless the label on the firework indicates otherwise. Set them at a 10-degree angle, pointing away from people.
NEVER try to light a firework or hold a lit firework in your hand unless the manufacturer’s instructions indicate that they are designed to be hand-held.<
LIGHT CAREFULLY: Always light the fuse at its tip.
KEEP WATER NEARBY: Dispose of used fireworks (including debris) in a pail of water.
WAIT at least 30 minutes before approaching a firework that did not go off. NEVER try to RELIGHT a firework that did not go off. NEVER try to fix a firework that is defective.
KEEP fireworks in a cool, dry, ventilated place, out of the reach of children.
IT IS RECOMMENDED that safety glasses be worn.
We haven’t yet heard of any public fireworks displays being planned in our community, but if we learn of any we’ll be sure to let you know. In the meantime, all of us at NeighbourhoodLife wish you and your family a safe and happy Halloween!