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Edmonton firefighters remind public of fireworks safety ahead of New Year’s Eve

Now that we’re past Christmas, New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. With that, comes celebrations all across the city, but Edmonton Fire Rescue Services is reminding the public that it doesn’t mean just anyone can set off fireworks. This year, especially, there are safety measures that need to be taken.

Setting off fireworks in Edmonton is currently illegal without a permit. Edmonton Fire Rescue Service (EFRS) points out it’s also dangerous.

“If you’re not trained and you don’t have a permit, you cannot shoot off fireworks. It’s plain and simple,” said EFRS Chief Joe Zatylny.

EFRS says as of Dec. 13, fire crews have responded to double the number of firework-related calls. In 2022, it responded to 59 and this year, that jumped to 121.

Most of those were in November, when fireworks started five grass fires, 17 smaller outdoor fires and there were 54 other fireworks complaints.

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“They’re unsafe, they’re causing burns, they’re causing injuries, they’re causing damage. Not to mention the disruption that happens to everybody around because you want to put on a show for fireworks,” said Zatylny.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton firefighters called to grass fires, fireworks complaints Sunday'

Edmonton firefighters called to grass fires, fireworks complaints Sunday

However, local fireworks stores are still seeing a boom. Uncle John’s Fireworks has had many customers come from outside the city.

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“People buy fireworks for special occasions but in particular New Year’s and Canada Day. In Alberta, New Year’s is really popular,” said John Adria, owner of Uncle John’s Fireworks.

Adria has owned his store since 2007 and in recent years has noticed changes.

“People hear about the horrible things that happen in the USA or other countries. Canadian fireworks are really tightly regulated,” said Adria.

“The biggest problem we have when we’re in a city like Edmonton: Edmonton had a long history of allowing people to use consumer fireworks. They don’t anymore.”

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Click to play video: '2nd annual New Year’s Eve bash in downtown Edmonton’s ICE District'

2nd annual New Year’s Eve bash in downtown Edmonton’s ICE District

Adria says even though fireworks injuries are not that common, he recommends three safety tips to everyone who buys fireworks.

“The person shooting should wear goggles. The second thing they should do is make sure that the fireworks don’t tip because if they tip sometimes there’s more risk of injury. Finally, we have the audience 100 metres away,” said Adria.

EFRS has some concerns this New Year’s Eve due to how dry it is. This is why Adria says it’s crucial to take proper precautions while using fireworks.

“It’s really hard to start a tree with no leaves on fire at this time of year but long dry grass that you might have in a wildland area, which is perhaps a foot long and dry, is very flammable,” Adria said.

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Click to play video: 'Fireworks launch onto crowded Summerside beach in south Edmonton'

Fireworks launch onto crowded Summerside beach in south Edmonton

If you set off fireworks in Edmonton without a permit, you could face a fine of up to $10,000 and charges could potentially be laid.

But for those looking to celebrate the start of 2024 with fireworks, they can still head down to Churchill Square on Dec. 31.

The city is hosting its annual celebrations downtown with one fireworks show at 9 p.m. for families and the other at midnight.

More details on the festivities and fireworks safety can be found on the City of Edmonton’s website.

Click to play video: 'Global Edmonton weather forecast: Dec. 26'

Global Edmonton weather forecast: Dec. 26

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