Dutch gov't to ban strongest consumer fireworks: report

On Friday the Dutch government will announce a nationwide ban on the strongest consumer fireworks - fireworks that fall in the so-called third category like strips and rolls of firecrackers, sources in The Hague told broadcaster NOS. Both the fireworks sector and the police are dissatisfied with the ban. 

The ban will take effect from New Year's 2020-2021, according to the broadcaster. Category three fireworks, which form only a small share of the Dutch market, are already banned in Belgium and Germany. 

The Dutch Safety Board and National police have long called for a total ban on firecrackers, because they cause many injuries. This past New Year's, two people died and 400 people were injured in fireworks-related incidents. The government did not want to ban firecrackers completely, and therefore came up with this compromise. If this partial ban does not result in a decrease in incidents, additional measures will not be ruled out in the long term, the broadcaster's sources said.

National Police chief Erik Akerboom is dissatisfied by this partial ban, calling it disappointing and the measurers insufficient to maintain the New Year's fireworks tradition in a safe way. "The broadly supported appeal to te government to introduce more measures to make New Year's a safe and festive celebration from mayors, police personnel, aid workers and doctors, has not been heard", he said in a statement. 

The police doubt whether this partial ban will make New Year's safer for the public, police and aid workers. According to the police, the current patchwork of municipal regulations against fireworks makes enforcement a difficult task. "The police will continue to come up with concrete proposals for a safe and festive celebration of New Year's", Akerboom said.

Leo Groeneveld, chairman of the Dutch Association of Pyrotechnics, called the fact that the government only banned the strongest fireworks incomprehensible. "I don't understand this at all", he said to NOS. "The category that is now banned, F3 or Cat3, is such a minimal part of the collection, less than half a percent, and not even the most dangerous. I don't find this useful."

According to Groeneveld, most injuries are caused by other fireworks. "Those are the small flares that are shot away and end with a loud bang, the single shots" They cover 10 percent of consumer fireworks in the Netherlands. Small rockets also pose a danger, because their trajectory is not always stable. The association has been calling for a ban on these fireworks for years, but to no avail. 

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