News Local

Vancouver pushes back on fireworks

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Vancouver wants tighter controls on fireworks sales. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

Vancouver wants tighter controls on fireworks sales. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

Vancouver firefighters are trying to stomp out revised federal regulations that now allow up to 100 kilograms of firework explosives to be sold in buildings attached to residences.

According to a report being presented to city council this week, the federal regulations changed in February and now pose a risk.

“A fire in a building containing family fireworks can be highly challenging for firefighters and can be very dangerous to people who require the time to take up to a fire alarm and start evacuating,” said the fire department’s report, which called the risks “unacceptable.”

A fireworks store bursting into flames has already happened before — though no one was injured — in 2010 when a Venables Street store was gutted. The damage was more than $1 million.

Direct sales are still prohibited from residences, but the changes allow buildings attached to dwellings to sell, as long as the amount of explosives doesn’t exceed 100 kilograms.

The fire chief is proposing to ban sales in residential-attached buildings, unless sprinklers and a concrete or masonry separation wall that can resist fire for two hours are in place to guard the rest of the building.

Additionally, firefighters want to allow muncipal ticketing of fire-related violations. Currently, the process involves writing violation notices with follow-up inspections — if orders are ignored, then the case could go to court, but this process is lenghty.

Using municipal tickets, firefighters can issue $500 fines, which if ignored results in an automatic conviction.

Coun. Kerry Jang said on Sunday many buildings in Vancouver are integrated with businesses and this would make those residences safer.

“Whether it’s Chinese New Year, Diwali, Halloween, we want to make sure everybody plays safe,” he said.

Vancouver Fire and Security CEO Robert Baxter praised the idea of adding a separation wall, since sprinkers, he said, are not always sufficient to deal with explosives-fuelled fires.

He added the rules should be consistent across differnt cities so vendors can’t hop from one jurisdiction to the other to evade bylaws.


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