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'Risk is absolutely clear': Edmonton firefighters want tighter rules on fireworks


There is a battle brewing at city hall in Edmonton over a request to bring in tougher restrictions on fireworks.

Officials with the fire department are concerned about accidental blazes and injuries and are recommending councillors ban amateur displays and only allow shows with professional oversight and paid permits.

"The risk is absolutely clear. Fireworks are a fire risk. We’ve had numerous fires in the last several years caused by fireworks. Injuries as well, Alberta Health Services data is clear," Deputy Fire Chief Rob McAdam told CTV News Edmonton.

He argues even over-the-counter “consumer grade” fireworks can cause real danger.

City data shows there have been 15 fires started by fireworks in Edmonton since 2018. Many more are suspected to have been caused by displays, but that's not proven.

"The question is, what about those little fireworks displays right? You know, where you order your fireworks online and you set them off in the field behind your house…That’s where the tension points are," Coun. Tim Cartmell said of the decision councillors are faced with.

One fireworks vendor and showrunner said a proposed rule change would unfairly impact community and cultural groups. As it stands, those groups can buy a few hundred dollars worth of fireworks -- and with a permit from the city – launch them on their own.

But the man who runs Uncle John’s Fireworks said if the rules are changed to only allow trained professionals to run those shows, many won't happen because the cost will skyrocket. A fee would be added to permits that are now free and community groups would likley have to hire help.

"They don't have $150 for a permit and then $300 for fireworks. It's the little communities that are getting hammered by this," John Adria said, disputing the fire service's claim that the shows are dangerous.

"There’s no fires or injuries at these community shows."

Edmonton is surrounded by communities that only permit professional fireworks, including Sherwood Park, Beaumont and St. Albert.

An official with the Canadian National Fireworks Association pointed out that tougher bylaws in many cities haven’t stopped people from launching fireworks illegally.

"In Vancouver, they banned it two years ago. Good, bad, indifferent, sales were higher last year. What it did is it moved the 40 stores out of town and online," said Perry Logan.

The city's Community and Public Service's Committee passed a motion Monday instructing city staff to reach out to do more public consultation, including with community and faith groups, and report back. No date for further discussion has been decided.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson Top Stories

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