Firework permits for New Year’s Eve 2022 were up on Big Island; but no major incidents
January 12, 2023, 5:00 AM HST
Plenty of pyrotechnics emblazed Big Island skies on New Year’s Eve as countless revelers fired off fireworks to say farewell to 2022 and ring in 2023.
Michael Matsui, the Fire Department’s fireworks auditor, reported that 3,075 fireworks permits were sold from Dec. 26-31, 2022, in Hawai‘i County, the most sold for New Year’s since he started as fireworks auditor in 2006. Last year, 2,318 permits were sold on the Big Island.
Fortunately, all those bangs, pops, crackles and kabooms that accompanied the flashy festivities didn’t seem to lead to any major incidents.
Hawai‘i Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Eric Moller reported that the department received 104 calls from 7 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2022, to 7 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2023. Of those calls, just three were related to fireworks; and all three were brush fire reports.
“The weather has a major impact on fire starts due to fireworks,” Moller said, adding that this year’s relatively green conditions contributed to fewer fires as compared to when large areas are in a higher than normal drought status.
During the same time frame from New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day, the Hawai‘i Police Department received 903 calls of which 142 were fireworks complaints, which was down from the 227 complaints a year ago.
A Waimea couple, Kendell and Lexa Artuyo, were charged Dec. 31 with one count each of fireworks prohibitions, as well as more than a half-dozen drug offenses.
The use of fireworks is only permitted from 9 p.m. New Year’s Eve until 1 a.m. New Year’s Day, and permits are required to purchase “red paper” string firecrackers and aerial fireworks, which are fireworks that go above 12 feet high and move around on the ground in more than a 12-foot radius, have been banned since 1995 in Hawai’i.
A new state law also went into effect on Jan. 1 that requires the auditor of fireworks and articles pyrotechnic records for each county fire department to submit to the Hawai‘i Legislature an annual report detailing inventory, record keeping and sales of fireworks to license or permit holders.
Elsewhere in the state, Honolulu EMS responded to at least a dozen fireworks-related injuries around O‘ahu on New Year’s Eve, according to KHON2. Those injuries included burns, loss of vision and even an incident during which someone’s teeth were knocked out by fireworks. Honolulu fire crews also responded to at least eight fires because of fireworks.
A Wahiawa, O’ahu, man also died Jan. 4 after being on life support for four days following a traumatic fireworks-related injury to the left side of his head shortly after midnight on New Year’s Day, according to Hawai‘i News Now. The man’s family is pleading with the public for information as they work to piece together what happened. Although there were witnesses, the family says no one has explained how the accident occurred.