The week leading up to Halloween is one of the very few times of the year when fireworks are legally allowed in Kamloops, but fans of the pyrotechnics may miss out this year.
Fire risks have led Kamloops Fire Rescue to prohibit the sale of fireworks until further notice. Typically, approved vendors are allowed to sell firecrackers to permitted buyers 21 years and older starting Oct. 24.
“We’re not permitting any vendors to sell them in town and we’re not going to allow anybody to use them in town because of the dryness of the backcountry and our community,” said Capt. Sheldon Guertin of Fire Rescue.
The ban, which also covers the Tk’emlups Indian Band land, includes items such as roman candles, sparklers, fountains, wheels, volcanoes, mines and snakes.
While rain is forecast in the week ahead, Guertin says it will take a significant change in conditions to ease the high fire risk. He said many factors come into the calculation including the amount of precipitation in the last 24 hours, humidity, wind speed, temperature and moisture content on both the ground and in fuels deeper down.
“There’s been lots of times where they say we’re going to get rain and we end up getting two centimetres instead of 10.”
The fine for discharging fireworks and for selling prohibited fireworks is $250, plus confiscation of all similar products in the seller’s possession.
Even when permitted, their use is strictly regulated because so many consumers use them irresponsibly.
“The problem is people are treating them like toys and they’re not,” said Guertin. “Kids have no business having fireworks. And people are lighting fireworks on properties that are way too small landing on their neighbours’ houses or in their shrubs.
“If we get complaints about that we’ll be issuing tickets. It’s zero tolerance.”
That didn’t stop some from discharging pyrotechnics Wednesday night. Several residents in the west end of downtown Kamloops reported hearing and seeing evidence of the misdeeds sometime around 11 p.m.
If users aren’t careful, they may lose the privilege for good.
“We’re one serious incident away from fireworks being banned in Kamloops,” said Guertin. “That’s the direction in which things are going. You’ve seen it in other communities like Abbotsford.”
As the story goes, several years ago Abbotsford’s mayor was at a community event when a lit roman candle was thrown and landed under a police cruiser.
As it stands, Kamloops might see more safety rules imposed.
“We’re looking at some changes and one of the thoughts is you’d have to take a special course from Energy, Resources and Mines Canada to be able to buy or discharge fireworks.”
Each year Canadians are injured by fireworks, almost always because of improper handling. Severe injuries can include burns, lacerations, amputations and blindness.
Although Canada does not keep national statistics on property damage, deaths or injuries resulting from fireworks, data from Canadian hospitals show children age 10 to 14 were the most likely to be injured by fireworks with nearly 80 per cent of the injuries suffered by males. Injuries peaked on key long weekend holidays like Canada Day, Halloween and Victoria Day.