The bright reds, greens and oranges of Halloween pyrotechnics will light up the night sky in Saanich, as upwards of 100 residents will be legally permitted to discharge fireworks.
Since the municipality instituted a more stringent bylaw in 2007, that covers the sale, possession and discharge of fireworks, the Saanich fire department has offered annual safety workshops to grant special permits to celebrate with colourful explosions safely.
“From the hours of 5 to 10 p.m. is the only night during the year that (residents) are allowed to discharge fireworks,” said Capt. Jerry Tomljenovic with pre-fire planning and public education.
But they need a $10 permit. And to receive that permit, they must attend a 45-minute workshop.
Two more workshops are scheduled before Halloween: Sunday, Oct. 27 at 10 a.m., and Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 10 a.m. Both workshops will be held in the Kirby Room at the Saanich Fire Department (760 Vernon Ave.).
“What we’ve seen as a result of the workshops and the bylaw is a real decline in the number of incidents that we’re actually going to, and nuisance calls (for the Saanich police),” Tomljenovic said. “Five years ago it was upwards of 100 calls a night, now we’re down to only a handful.”
He said the bylaw has changed the way neighbourhoods celebrate Halloween. Many areas of the municipality now have large, permitted fireworks display, as opposed to many small displays home by home.
“It’s a very welcoming thing in the neighbourhood,” Tomljenovic said.
He added that part of being a considerate neighbour, if you get a permit, is to advise other area residents about the fireworks display, to ensure they make arrangements for their pets.
Key safety tips Tomljenovic stresses are:
• Plan your show in advance: Read all safety instructions on your fireworks before Halloween night, and set your show up with safety precautions in mind (have a working hose on hand and plan an escape route).
• Don’t have kids involved in cleanup: “There’s always one or two duds. If there’s a dud or two, that’s where people are getting hurt. Wait 30 minutes before handling a dud, then put it in a bucket of water.”
• Make sure fireworks are secured properly before discharge: Large fireworks should be attached to a stake pounded into the ground. Medium-sized and smaller pyrotechnics should be buried half their length in a large bucket of sand. All fireworks should be tilted five to 10 degrees away from an audience and prevailing winds.
Saanich police Sgt. Steve Eassie says the department will respond to any fireworks-related calls on Halloween night. Permit-holders should have their permits at the ready, in case an officer is called to that neighbourhood.
Under the bylaw, there are a number of ticketable offences as it relates to the sale, possession and discharge of fireworks.
Discharging without a permit comes with a $200 fine; discharging outside of the permitted timeframe, $100; possession of prohibited fireworks or firecrackers, $100; possessing or using fireworks under the age of 18, $100; selling fireworks in Saanich; $500.
To register for one of the remaining workshops, call Saanich fire prevention at 250-475-5500.