Victorians are being urged not to risk death or serious injury to themselves or others by hosting their own firework displays this festive season.
Fireworks are classed as a type of explosive and it’s a crime in Victoria for anyone other than a licensed pyrotechnician to sell, buy or use them, whether in a public area or on private property.
More than 7000 fireworks have been confiscated by WorkSafe in 2019, after either being handed in or seized by Victoria Police.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said those caught with illegal fireworks could face a prison sentence of up to 15 years and thousands of dollars in fines.
“Fireworks can and do cause serious injuries and deaths in untrained hands, which is why they are banned for use by the general public,” Ms Nielsen said.
“The holidays should be a time of joy to celebrate with families and friends, not to spend in hospital or mourning a loved one,” she said. “The potential consequences for two minutes of fun can be life changing and simply not worth it.”
According to the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU) at Monash University, 35 people attended emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in the 2017-18 financial year.
In the five years to June 2018, 157 people presented at Victorian hospitals with injuries from fireworks. Of these, 78 per cent were male and more than a third were aged in their 20s.
The most common injuries were burns (42 per cent), eye injuries (19 per cent) and pieces of firework lodged in the skin (13 per cent).
MFB Acting Chief Executive Officer/Chief Officer David Bruce urged the community to put their safety first as the new year approaches.
“Fireworks are dangerous, unpredictable and volatile items that can result in bush fires, property damage, serious burns and even death,” Mr Bruce said.
“Over the last three summers, MFB firefighters responded to almost 50 firework-related emergency incidents; many of which resulted in severe injuries, significant damage to property, and even caused disruptions to the public transport network.
“We want everyone to enjoy the festive season but above all, firefighters want you to put the safety of your families and friends first.”
CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington said people planning to set off illegal fireworks put themselves, their families, neighbours and the community at risk of serious injury and have the potential to start significant fires.
“While we do everything we can, we look to the community to use common sense and take responsibility for preventing fires.”
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 to www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.
Anyone in possession of illegal fireworks should contact WorkSafe’s Advisory Service on 1800 136