The joy of bringing in 2023 surrounded by family and friends should not be an occasion where health and safety are put at risk by the use of unauthorised and illegal fireworks.
It is a crime in Victoria for anyone other than a licensed pyrotechnician to use or possess fireworks, which are all classed as a type of explosive under the Dangerous Goods Act.
WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Narelle Beer said it was important people celebrate the end of another busy year and commencement of a new year with safety in mind.
“Having fireworks in the hands of someone who is not licenced is a recipe for disaster,” Dr Beer said.
“With COVID impacting the past two New Year’s, many people will be keen to celebrate this year but that’s no reason for illegal fireworks to be part of the party.
“Anyone in possession of illegal fireworks is risking serious injury or death to themselves and those around them, as well as the prospect of a term of imprisonment or heavy fines.”
Seventeen people presented at hospital emergency departments with fireworks related injuries in the 2021-22 financial year, compared to 16 in the previous period, according to the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit at Monash University.
Of the 169 people treated for fireworks-related injuries since July 2015, 79 per cent were male and a quarter were aged 20-24, with five aged four or under and eight older than 55.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said illegal fireworks could not only cause injury, but could also spark grass and bushfires.
“We urge Victorians to heed our safety warnings to avoid having our volunteer firefighters attend unnecessary fires and other incidents caused by illegal fireworks,” Mr Heffernan said.
“There has been significant grass growth in many areas across the state and these fuels are drying out quickly, so there is potential for vegetation fires.”
Acting Fire Rescue Commissioner Gavin Freeman said firefighters are calling on the community to have a safe festive season.
“Each year we respond to fires sparked by illegal fireworks which can cause significant damage,” Mr Freeman said.
“Public firework shows are a great way to bring in the New Year, but we urge the community to attend community events and not create their own illegal fireworks displays – they can result in severe property damage, serious burns, and sometimes, death.”
Information about the sale or use of illegal fireworks can be reported to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or by submitting a confidential crime report at: www.crimestoppersvic.com.au/report-a-crime/