This follows Home Affairs Minister Len Norman’s statement in the States this week that changes to tighten regulations around fireworks displays are in the pipeline.
Both developments come in a week in which a stray firework caused a large furze fire at Grève de Lecq, a family escaped unharmed after a lit firework was posted through the letterbox of their home in St Brelade and there were multiple complaints about noise and nuisance caused by fireworks across the Island.
Andy Jones, a JEP columnist, has started the online petition, which is well on its way to reaching the 1,000 mark that triggers a response from a minister. Petitions that gain 5,000 signatures are then considered for a debate in the States.
Mr Jones wants fireworks to be sold or supplied for licensed displays only.
He said: ‘Every November fireworks are freely available, and are set off in the streets much to the serious distress of dogs and other family pets. Equally, there is a risk of personal injury and damage to property. Firework displays are enjoyed by thousands of people throughout the year during a variety of celebrations. There can be no real need for, or benefit from, the use and sale of “domestic” fireworks which, in reality, cause more distress and danger than they do enjoyment.’
In the States this week, Mr Norman said there had been delays to proposed changes to regulations around fireworks displays but that these would be brought back to the States before the end of the year.
The proposals follow a public consultation earlier this year. Currently, anyone wishing to hold a public fireworks display must obtain a public entertainment licence from the Bailiff – but no permission is needed to hold a private display. There is no legal obligation to advertise any firework display, whether private or public.
Under the proposed changes, parish Constables would issue licences for fireworks displays. Regulations requiring people holding displays to notify neighbours, set times for displays and implement safety arrangements, would also be introduced.
‘The plan was to bring the regulations under the amended explosives law,’ said Mr Norman, who added that the amendment was then withdrawn owing to timing issues with last May’s election.
Meanwhile, Mr Norman told the States that the Jersey Fire and Rescue Service is ‘resourceful’ enough to deal with multiple call-outs at the same time, despite the force carrying a number of vacant posts.
He had been asked a question without notice on the matter by Constable Deidre Mezbourian following the fire at Grève de Lecq. She asked whether the service was running below ‘the recommended minimum level’, as it had been stretched by dealing with that incident at the same time as a number of smaller fires.
‘I am not aware that they are operating below the minimum recommended level,’ Mr Norman replied. ‘Recommended by whom?’
He added that watches are operating at ‘full level’, and said it was a shame that they were called out because of fireworks.
‘Currently we have a complement of 67 firefighters and we are down five at the moment,’ he said. ‘The recruitment process to replace those is in progress. Hopefully, by early new year, we will be back to practical strength.’
The minister said that had a major incident arisen, resources could have been diverted from one of the ‘relatively minor ones’ which were being dealt with. ‘The Fire Service are resourceful enough and aware enough to dedicate their resources to where it is most appropriate,’ he said.