Police crack down on fireworks sales

While fireworks are legal during the New Year’s celebration, not all are safe

Municipal Police have been cracking down on fireworks sales. While it is legal to sell some types of fireworks for people to use at the end of the year, there are some restrictions.

Some types of fireworks should only be sold to people with a professional license to handle them, for example. All fireworks should meet European Union legal standards for safety.

“The Municipal Police have stepped up checks on the sale of fireworks recently,” Municipal Police spokesman Tomáš Hulan said in press release on the police website.

“With the approaching year-end and New Year's Eve celebrations, police officers, in cooperation with customs officers and the Czech Trade Inspection Authority (ČOI), have again focused on pyrotechnics dealers,” he said.

“One of the biggest inspections took place in Prague's Libuš market. Policemen, customs officers and ČOI officials checked a total of five outlets, 59 people and 12 motor vehicles. A total of 12 offenses were detected in these inspections, half of which were settled on the spot and the remaining were taken over by the ČOI and the Czech Customs Administration,” he said. Some fake handbags were also confiscated.

Hulan said the inspections would continue up until the new year.

Different types of fireworks are supposed to be inspected and approved before that particular brand and type can be sold, but that is sometimes not the case. The lack of paperwork is not just a technicality. All fireworks should be traceable back to the manufacturer.

Poorly made imported fireworks can pose a significant danger to the public.
Fireworks that meet EU safety standards should carry the CE logo on the packaging.

Daily Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD) reported that the recent inspections turned up at least one vendor selling professional grade F4 fireworks to the general public. This is the highest category in the European Union, and defined as fireworks that pose grave danger. These are exclusively intended for persons with specialized knowledge, or simply put, fireworks for professional usage.

“In Libuš in Prague, ČOI staff found that a retailer sold F4 fireworks to a person who was not authorized to use them,” Hulan told MfD. The punishment has not yet been decided.

While the sale of fireworks to the public is generally banned, there is an exception for the end of the year in many EU countries.

The EU has four categories for fireworks, F1 includes items such as sparklers that can be used in a closed space. These should be used by people at least 12 years old. F2 are items that pose little danger and are intended to be used outdoors by people at least 16 years old. F3 items pose average danger and are intended for use in large open spaces by people at least 18 years old. The F4 category, as stated, is for licensed professionals.

In most of Prague, using fireworks without a permit outside of Dec. 31 or Jan. 1 can result in a fine of Kč 5,000, and in some cases up to Kč 30,000.

Safety experts warn that many injuries come from fireworks that fail to go off on time. People should not approach fireworks that fail to go off for at least 20 minutes. A dud firework should not be relighted. Instead it should be put in a bucket of water.

Fireworks should also not be carried in a pocket.

People using fireworks should wear safety glasses and be sure not to point them at other people.

Pets should not be brought near fireworks, as the noise is much too loud for them. Pets should also have proper tags in case they get frightened and run off.

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