PEOPLE wishing to discharge fireworks will only be allowed to do so on public holidays and Old Year's Night, but would otherwise require a police permit to do so.
This is if Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi is able to pass the Summary Offences (Amendment) Bill 2021 in Parliament.
Al-Rawi sent a copy of the 15-page bill to media houses on Wednesday, with a statement promising public consultations on fireworks.
An explanatory note said the bill provides for a permit system to use fireworks, requires certain entities to be notified about their intended use, allows the use of fireworks on specified days without a permit, restricts their use by individuals, restricts it in specified areas, and provides for a fixed penalty notice for an offence.
The bill defines a firework as "a device, other than a distress signal or a toy firework, consisting of a case or contrivance forming a squib, gerb, cracker, serpent, mortar shell, lance, wheel, coloured fire, Roman candle or other article specially designed or adapted for the production of a pyrotechnic effect or a sound effect.”
The proposed legislation says, "A person shall not discharge any fireworks unless he holds a valid permit issued by the Commissioner of Police."
Permits shall not be issued to a person under 18.
The permit must state the type and amount of fireworks, location, date and time during which they may be discharged.
A person who has obtained a permit must give the relevant details to several entities at least 14 days before the intended date of discharge of the fireworks. These are the Fire Service, Civil Aviation Authority, Environmental Management Authority, and the local municipal corporation.
"A person is not required to obtain a permit for the discharge of fireworks on (a) a public holiday; or (b) the 31st day of December."
A person may discharge fireworks on a public holiday from 8-9 pm and on December 31 from 11.30 pm-1 am the next day.
"A person may discharge fireworks on any land belonging to him or on any other privately owned land where the written permission of the owner of said land has been first obtained.
"A person shall not discharge fireworks in such a manner as might create danger or constitute a nuisance to any person or property, or cause or allow any unsafe act or omission during the discharge of fireworks. A person shall not discharge fireworks in, on or onto any house, vehicle or street."
A child can only use fireworks under the supervision of a parent/guardian.
Discharges must not occur within a half-mile radius of certain areas namely a hospital, home for the elderly, zoo, forest reserve, national park, or farm where animals are reared.
The AG's office is seeking public feedback on the proposals by January 26.
Its media statement attributed the bill to a call by many entities for a review of fireworks rules, even as the public was split between some wishing for a full ban, but others arguing for a retention of the colourful displays.
As a result the office had done extensive research through the Law Revision Commission to develop a policy after considering laws in the Caribbean, England, Canada and Australia among other countries.
Al-Rawi said the fireworks laws in most Caribbean countries were archaic and of little guidance for Trinidad and Tobago.
He noted a range of regulations in foreign jurisdictions. In England there was a classification system, with the police empowered to impose on-the-spot fines for misuse.
New Zealand allows sales only from November 2-5 but allows unlimited use of the fireworks sold.
Singapore has an absolute ban, Northern Ireland has banned illegal fireworks, and Chile allows only professional operators to discharge them.
"The province of Palma, Italy has also introduced legislation that insists on silent fireworks in its displays."
Al-Rawi expects to hold public meetings virtually with stakeholders to consult on fireworks. Meanwhile, comments can be sent to Criminal Justice Unit director Farzana Nazir-Mohammed who can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or called at 223-AGLA (223-2452) extension 3797.