Fire services are warning residents to not be complacent during this year's Guy Fawkes season.
National Risk Reduction Manager Rob Saunders says fireworks were responsible for 268 callouts last year, with the majority occurring during the month of November when New Zealand celebrates Guy Fawkes.
He says, “That’s a big drop on the 653 fires we had in 2006 – the last year before restrictions on sales took effect – but there are still too many fires and injuries that are entirely preventable. We now hover around 300 fireworks-related fires a year, and considering the resulting injuries, disruption and damage, we believe Kiwis can do much better.”
Saunders says last year's callouts included five house and garage fires that could have ended a lot more seriously.
“In these cases, fireworks ignited trees or rubbish close to buildings, and one fire even threatened a block of shops. Only a chance passerby prevented a tragedy,” he adds.
The fire service is advising people to follow instructions on fireworks, to light them in open spaces and to have a bucket of water or hose at the ready.
Restrictions on the sale of fireworks came into effect before 2007. This included limiting sales to just four days to those 18 years and over, and requiring sparklers to be sold as part of a package of fireworks.
New Zealanders celebrate Guy Fawkes annually, on November 5.