Justice Minister to discuss New Year's fireworks with mayor after Safety Board report
Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security will meet with mayors and the chief of police to discuss the Dutch Safety Board's recommendation that banger- and rocket-type fireworks be banned, he said at the start of the Council of Ministers on Friday. After that, he will discuss the report with the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, AD reports.
The Dutch Safety Board concluded that these type of fireworks should be banned because they cause the most injuries and disturbances. Many people are injured by firework rockets each year, according to the board. These rockets are shot out of someone's hand, sometimes aimed at bystanders or shot from shaky bottles. Bangers cause major nuisance problems and "invite reckless behavior", the Safety Board said.
The Board called New Year's the most dangerous time in the Netherlands and said that it is time to break the "pattern of many injuries and disturbances".
The Safety Board emphasized that it is not calling for a total ban on consumer fireworks. Pretty fireworks and other "innocent" fireworks can still be sold, thereby limiting the effect of a ban on the firework industry. According to industry figures, around 80 percent of its sales are from these relatively innocent fireworks.
Municipalities would be wise to give the New Year's celebrations "a more organized character", for example by organizing firework shows, the Board also said. This will require an active attitude from the Association of Dutch Municipalities and the Ministry of Justice and Security.
Grapperhaus called the Safety Board's report "good and sound", but said it is too early to draw conclusions, according to AD. One thing is certain, he said - it is too late to adjust legislation for the coming New Year's.
Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations also told the newspaper that she doesn't want to draw conclusions yet and that she will study the report carefully.
According to figures from the Dutch association of insurers VNV, the average amount of firework damage to cars, household content and buildings during a rainy New Year's is 10 million euros, the Telegraaf reports. If the weather is dry over New Year's, that amount runs up to an average of 15 million euros.
On December 31st 2016, and January 1st of this year, a total of 473 people were treated for firework related injuries at hospitals' emergency rooms, according to figures from Veligheid.nl. A 54-year-old man from Meppel died a few days after a firework exploded in his face.
A massive 76 percent of last year's firework injury victims were male, 36 percent are younger than 20 years old, and 30 percent fall into the age group 20 to 29 years, according to the Telegraaf. 61 percent of victims did not light the fireworks themselves, but were bystanders. Only 3 percent of victims were injured outside the permitted time in which fireworks may be lit, from 6:00 p.m. on December 31st to 2 a.m. on January 1st.