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Valley Journal Advertiser - 2021-07-20

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Fireworks require due consideration

OPINION

WENDY ELLIOTT welliott@bellaliant.ne @KingsNSnews

The other night I had the pooches out about 11 p.m. for the final stroll of the day. We just got around the corner and I heard some fireworks going off across town. Dog No. 2 turned around immediately and headed for home. On reaching safety, he sought out the basement and hung out there until 3 a.m. Dogs do not like fireworks. One of our dogs is deaf. She's not concerned by loud sounds, but it's fair to say that most canines have a more acute sense of hearing than their owners. Secondly, random big bangs are unpredictably scary. We expect fireworks to go off during the Apple Blossom Festival, for Canada Day or on New Year's Eve. The ones that go off without any warning and have different intervals spook most dogs. Fireworks tend to trigger a fight-or-flight response in them. One dog was killed by a car in the Halifax area a while back trying to escape the noise. Even before the pandemic, more and more of us have dogs these days and unexpected fireworks can be traumatizing. People can get hurt too. Kings District RCMP urged the public in February to brush up on firework safety following a serious incident in North Alton. And what about property? In 2017, Halifax Regional Fire had to put out a blaze on Citadel Hill one Saturday during a fundraising event. Officials said an errant firework landed on the grass roof of the national historic site and a small brush fire resulted. Fortunately, the fire was quickly extinguished. Late last month in Truro, a female dog owner was seriously assaulted when she tried to tell some people that their fireworks could prompt convulsions in her dog. She was repeatedly punched and her head was held underwater in the Salmon River. That is simply horrifying. Those elected to the Halifax Regional Municipality discussed firework safety on June 30, but no display was held on Canada Day this year. A pledge to use quieter fireworks or pyrotechnic grade was made for the future. There is likely nobody in this province who has more fireworks experience than Fred Wade of Fireworks FX in Grand Pre. He got started in the industry in 1983. His talent and skill have taken him all over the world. When I called Fred, he said there is no such thing as silent fireworks, but some are far quieter than others. He compared comets and bombshells. Comets end with a star rather than a screaming buzzer. Both finales can be part of the enjoyment of the experience, Fred said, but he emphasized scheduling and education. “It's a conundrum,” he noted, “when you look at (quality of) experience versus restrictions. I think a handout to let people know you'll be setting fireworks off is considerate.” Fred also explained that most fireworks are imported from Asia and they fit into two categories: those made with flash powder and those made with gun powder. One is a lot more dangerous than the other. So, if there's a debate that's an important fact to know. The rules certainly vary widely. Many municipalities have a time limit of 10 p.m. to allow the public a good night's sleep. Kings and Colchester counties have no regulations covering fireworks that I could find, but in Cumberland County “no person shall engage in any activity which is likely to generate noise or sound that unreasonably disturbs the peace and tranquillity of a neighbourhood.” The Town of Kentville has a new noise bylaw and the enforcement officer told me he looks at, not only noise, but proximity to other dwellings and whether the fire marshall has a burning ban in place. In HRM: “The detonation of fireworks is prohibited at all times, and is also covered in a general noise exemption for Canada Day, Natal Day, New Year's Eve, and recognized religious holidays.” To purchase consumer fireworks in Nova Scotia an individual has to be 18 years of age. In cities, like Ottawa, the rules are very strict. The sale of fireworks is permitted only on Victoria Day and Canada Day and the seven business days preceding those days. Individuals can only discharge fireworks around those two days. Last fall in Vancouver, the sale and use of consumer fireworks — the kind set off in backyards by revellers — was made illegal. I love watching fireworks from a distance. Fred and his staff do a fabulous job adjacent to the Wolfville harbour most years. There was a terrific display on the lighting up of the wharf at Kingsport recently. Seems to me we really need more discussion about who, where and when fireworks should happen.

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