Pop-up fizzer for retailers

Not rocket science: Bad Boys Fireworks owner Dave Craig has done it by the book but other retailers have failed to comply with fireworks safety standards.
Not rocket science: Bad Boys Fireworks owner Dave Craig has done it by the book but other retailers have failed to comply with fireworks safety standards.

Fireworks sales might be finished for another year, but the experience has left a bad taste in the mouths of some of Waikato's older retailers.

Frankton Model shop owner Geoff Leond said his sales started steadily but the emergence of pop-up fireworks stalls affected his business.

"I've been here for many years and we're really affected by these fly-by-nighters."

Mr Leond said the number of outlets was getting ridiculous and said he was concerned about the safety and legality of some of the sellers.

To sell fireworks legally, retailers must sit a test to obtain an approved handler's certificate, but some in the industry believe a lot of people are not complying.

"Fair enough if they're doing it legally but if they pop up and just come and go and they're not checked on, it's a bit disappointing," he said.

A Waikato Times check of six Hamilton fireworks retailers found just one had been checked by the Labour Department, while another was unable to produce a handler's certificate.

Bad Boy Fireworks operator Dave Craig said it was unacceptable that unsafe fireworks were being sold, and people were getting away with it.

"There are rules and regulations for all fireworks outlets and importers," he said. "We do it and, if we have to do it, everybody else does."

Mr Craig noted that they had inspections by the council and the fire service, but the Labour Department was a no-show this year.

"We have not been checked this year," Mr Leond said. "We normally get checked most years."

Labour Department spokesman Mark Smith said there was not a lack of manpower in the department, but a lack of priority toward these safety checks.

"We do undertake checks, but it's a bit different this year," he said. "We're not being as proactive this year."

Waikato fire area commander Roy Breeze said the fire service had been checking retailers for safety reasons but was not responsible for checking certifications.

"Certainly, from our perspective, we are interested wherever there is bulk storage, so our firemen are aware," he said. "It is our role to be aware of risks in the area."

Mr Breeze said the Waikato region had been pretty fire-free during Guy Fawkes this year, with only one house catching fire.

But it is not just the retailers that are disappointed - Joseph Bysord said he bought $300 worth of fireworks from Boom Brothers last year, only to have them blow up in his face.

"I normally spend about $500 on crackers," he said, "and what was wrong with these crackers was they were blowing up. They were getting to two or three shots and they were actually exploding".

Mr Bysord said he still has at least two-thirds of the fireworks left, with no-one to return them to as the stall was a pop-up seller at the Frankton Markets.

"We saved up all year. We worked really hard to get these crackers. We've got loads that we're too scared to light."

Mr Bysord also said it was paramount that fireworks sellers be safe.

"For me, for a family man - for safety I go to the ones I trust now."

Waikato Times