Victorians are being urged to rethink New Year’s Eve plans involving illegal fireworks, or risk facing fines of thousands of dollars.
With plenty of legal fireworks displays across the state, there is no need for people to risk setting off illegal fireworks or fire crackers.
CFA Chief Officer Joe Buffone said illegal fireworks not only pose a serious risk to lives, they can also start significant fires.
“While many people see illegal fireworks as an innocent celebration, they can cause serious issues for fire services. All these fires and injuries are preventable,” he said.
“I’m particularly concerned about the risk this year with high fuel-loads in forests and dry grass across Victoria.”
MFB Chief Officer Peter Rau said fires started by illegal fireworks can spread quickly, threatening lives and homes within minutes.
“We don’t want people starting the New Year with a trip to hospital so enjoy the public fireworks displays that are organised by many councils and managed by professional fireworks companies,” he said.
WorkSafe Victoria’s Executive Director of Health and Safety Marnie Williams said only licensed pyrotechnicians were allowed to set off fireworks in Victoria.
“Fireworks are banned from use by the general public because they are dangerous in the wrong hands. Illegal fireworks can cause serious injury and death,” she said.
Licensed pyrotechnicians understand the dangers associated with fireworks, as well as appropriate exclusion zones required and the effects of weather conditions.
To reduce the flow of illegal fireworks into Victoria, WorkSafe and Victoria Police are also conducting inspections of a variety of retail stores to ensure they’re not storing or selling illegal fireworks, as well as pyrotechnicians’ facilities to ensure their fireworks supplies are stored securely and are earmarked for professional use only.
Police will take action against anyone using or in possession of illegal fireworks to help preserve life and property. You can be charged with a criminal offence, jailed for up to 15 years and fined thousands of dollars.
Anyone in possession of illegal fireworks should hand them in to their local police station or contact WorkSafe’s Advisory Service on 1300 136 089.
Victoria Police encourage the community to report illegal sales or detonations of fireworks by calling Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or by submitting a confidential crime report to www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.
For further information about fireworks and your legal obligations, go to worksafe.vic.gov.au.
Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.