Police officers speak to a vendor about selling fireworks on Charlotte Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

Jesse Ramdeo

Police are pledging to crackdown on the illegal sale and unlawful use of fireworks which are expected to surge in the run up to the New Year’s Day celebrations.

In a press release, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith warned that while the use of fireworks was not unlawful, regulations existed to stamp out its unauthorized sale and misuse.

The Police Service said that over the years there have been several reports of serious injuries to people engaging in the use of fireworks and unnecessary, sometimes fatal, disturbances to the elderly, convalescing, animals and pets.

According to the Summary Offences Act Chapter 11:02, Section 99, “any person who throws, casts, sets fire to, or lets off any fireworks within any town is liable to a fine of one thousand dollars.”

Fireworks are not to be used indoors, near dry grass or anywhere that may cause injury to persons, and animals or damage to property and should not be sold to any child under the age of 16.

The police statement stressed the need for fireworks users to act responsibly and bear safety in mind at all times.

It also advises that under the Summary Offences Act, a “town includes the City of Port-of-Spain, the City of San Fernando, and the Borough of Arima, and every part of the area within two miles of the boundaries of such city or, of either of such boroughs, and also any place or area declared by the minister, by order, to be a town or to be deemed to be included within a town for the purposes of the said sections.”

Meanwhile, the law states that any person who throws, casts, sets fire to, or lets off any fireworks into, in, or upon any street not being in any town, or into, in, or upon any place being within 60 feet of the centre of any such street, is liable to a fine of $400.

The law also stated that no person other than a wholesale or retail dealer shall sell gunpowder, or offer or expose the same for sale.

The Emperor Valley Zoo has also joined calls for a ban on the use of fireworks which curator Nirmal Biptah said continues to be a nerve-wrecking experience for animals.

In a statement yesterday, Biptah noted, “It appears though that this has been quickly forgotten or ignored by some people as the media images show a stash of fireworks waiting to be set off. It will do us well to think beyond the few moments of pretty outbursts in the skies and instead consider the harmful effects on animals, elderly people in society and children – all those who are especially vulnerable.”

Biptah said the zoo will do what is required to keep animals safe, but added that this should not have been needed if people made the right choice to boycott the use of fireworks.

“This should not be foisted upon us again and I join with the right-thinking citizens of Trinidad and Tobago calling for a ban on noise-making fireworks. We can be a progressive and caring society as we move forward.”