Inexperienced handlers and commercial-grade fireworks are a lethal mix according to a Coast fireworks expert.
Inexperienced handlers and commercial-grade fireworks are a lethal mix according to a Coast fireworks expert. Paul Lagher/Contributed

Dangers of illegal fireworks

EXPERTS fear people lighting illegal fireworks in their back yards are putting lives at risk.

The warning comes after a Sydney man died after a firework exploded in his face at a New Year's Eve party.

The father of two was reportedly hosting a party at his home and was playing with a firecracker when it exploded in his face, hitting him in the eyes.

As news of the man's death spread yesterday, Sunshine Coast fireworks expert Clive Featherby said commercial-grade fireworks sold on the black market posed the greatest danger to unqualified handlers.

Mr Featherby, who owns KC's Fireworks, is responsible for major shows in Australia.

He said he worried about people who were not licensed to use large fireworks who bought them off the black market.

"They think 'the bigger the better'," Mr Featherby said.

"Like motor cars, the young guys ... just want to get the biggest and the best.

"(But) the bigger ones should never get into the hands of the general public."

Mr Featherby said low-impact fireworks, which used to be legal in Queensland, were mostly harmless.

Larger fireworks that cost about $15 for commercial companies could sell for up to $400 on the black market, Mr Featherby said.

He said he worried about the injuries that could be caused when people bought fireworks that they were not trained to use.

"Our guys go through annual training," he said.

"I send my guys overseas to train with the big stuff. The big ones are not made for back yards."

Mr Featherby said there were still states in Australia where smaller fireworks could be bought legally.

He said most of the "shop fireworks" were harmless to people who used them at private events.

The danger came from commercial-grade fireworks, like the ones used for the New Year's Eve celebrations at Mooloolaba.

The final fireworks at that display on Saturday night had a burst of 250m, Mr Featherby said.

Two years ago Mr Featherby's company was robbed of 100 cartons of fireworks.

The theft, which cost him more than $100,000, meant thousands of dangerous fireworks were prob

ably being sold on the black market.

"Every one of those items had the potential to kill somebody," Mr Featherby said.

FACTS ABOUT CRACKERS

The first fireworks were probably made in China about 2000 years ago.

Chinese crackers are still used in China to celebrate weddings, births and religious festivals.

Fireworks were used for centuries in ancient Indian and Thai religious ceremonies.

The first recorded fireworks in England were at the wedding of King Henry VII in 1486.

Early fireworks were enjoyed more for their sound than their show because gunpowder, in its simplest form, explodes quickly and leaves not much more than a brief golden glow.


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