Send out 2023 with a certified banger, not illegal fireworks
Victorians are reminded to leave fireworks to the professionals this New Year's Eve or risk serious injuries, fires or harsh penalties blowing their chances of a great start to 2024.
Published:29 December 2023
It is a crime in Victoria for anyone other than a licensed pyrotechnician to use or possess fireworks, which are all classed as a type of explosive under the Dangerous Goods Act.
WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Narelle Beer said fireworks were potentially deadly in the wrong hands and those caught using them illegally faced possible heavy fines or even imprisonment.
"It's deeply concerning to see the number of people seeking emergency treatment for fireworks-related injuries rising again for the first time in recent years," Dr Beer said.
"Enjoy your celebrations, but please don't let illegal fireworks ruin the fun – there's a very real risk that you or someone nearby could be seriously hurt."
Data shows 23 people presented at Victorian hospital emergency departments with fireworks related injuries in the 2022-23 financial year – up from 16 the previous year and the largest number since 2017-18, when 33 people were injured by fireworks.
Last summer, CFA firefighters were called to 27 fires and explosions across the state caused by illegal fireworks.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan is urging Victorians to be mindful of the repercussions ahead of end of year celebrations to avoid unnecessary call outs and grass fires.
"Following three wet seasons we’re now seeing exceptional grass growth across Victoria that has started to significantly dry out, posing an enhanced risk of vegetation fires," CO Heffernan said.
"Every year, our volunteer firefighters leave their family and friends on New Year's Eve to respond, so we're asking anyone tempted to use illegal fireworks to consider the risk to their own families and neighbours."
Fire Rescue Commissioner Gavin Freeman (AFSM) urged all Victorians to celebrate safely.
"Every New Year’s Eve, Fire Rescue Victoria responds to incidents caused by illegal fireworks," Mr Freeman said.
"Illegal fireworks have the potential to start grass and scrub fires, damage property and even start bushfires."
According to the Monash University's Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit, 191 people have been treated for fireworks-related injuries since July 2015, with males accounting for four out of every five injured and almost a quarter being aged 20-24.
The most common injury type was burns (87), followed by eye injuries (30) and open wounds (20).
Summer is the most dangerous season for fireworks with 71 per cent of injuries happening from December to February.
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 on their website.