Police, fire department brace for Halloween fireworks damage
A store front selling fireworks near Fraser and Kingsway in Vancouver, Oct. 23. Each year, Halloween fireworks cost an average of $50,000 damage in the city of Vancouver. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
Halloween is full of little witches and goblins looking for treats but Vancouver's police and fire departments are bracing for the usual rash of damage caused by older tricksters setting off fireworks.
An average $50,000 in damage a year has occurred in Vancouver each of the last five years due to Halloween fireworks, officials say.
"Every year there are schools that get damaged and various other buildings that get damaged with fireworks,'' said Sgt. Randy Fincham of the Vancouver Police Department.
"We will have an enhanced police presence out on Halloween night.''
Last year, fireworks resulted in three hedges being set on fire. One of those blazes spread to the siding of a home resulting in $20,000 in damage. Four vehicles were also damaged, one by fireworks. In 2010, there were 25 fires costing $200,000.
The school board has hired a security company to keep an eye on school buildings on Halloween.
Vancouver has a bylaw requiring permits to buy or sell fireworks. A person must be 19 or older to purchase fireworks and pass a basic safety course. The fireworks can only be discharged on Oct. 31 and on private property.
Lieut. Carol Messenger of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services said it's no secret the bylaws are being flaunted.
"The reality is people out there under the age of 19 are misusing and abusing fireworks,'' said Messenger.
''Any time we have fireworks there are injuries and there is fire damage. To us it's a busy time. You are always going to get safety, health and fire concerns when ever the public is allowed to purchase fireworks.''
Fincham hesitated when asked if fireworks should be banned totally.
"I think they have a place,'' he said. "I think they just need to be regulated and they need to be done in a environment that can be supervised and done safely.''