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Koh Samui has seen far too many firework ‘incidents’ over the last few years. Fortunately (to date) none have actually resulted in any injuries, however, unless some kind of action is taken, it is only a matter of time before something more serious happens. The incidents in the past have so far been restricted to almost exclusively one supplier (who’s shop has since closed down) and have included the burning down of a wedding tent; setting coconut trees on fire; covering a wedding banquet in firework ‘debris’; damaging resort property; and covering wedding guests in firework debris… to name but a few.
Fireworks – by their very nature – are potentially dangerous if handled or set-up/shot incorrectly, and even some of the biggest and best fireworks companies in the world have – on occasion – fallen foul to incidents. No firework supplier is immune, and this makes it imperative that the highest safety procedures are not only implemented, but rigidly adhered to. There is no place for arrogance or complacency when dealing with fireworks… of any size! A sudden gust of wind from the wrong direction for example, can blow firework fallout/debris in the wrong place, as even we have experienced! The skill is in ensuring that any potential incident is minimized, and does not compromise the safety of people or property.
The safety of people and property is paramount, and it is crucial that lessons must be learnt from any incident, (ideally from other people’s incidents rather than your own!) so that they are never repeated. Huge doses of … ‘what if’… and … ‘just in case’… must also be included during the design and setting-up process of any firework display. To make a mistake is bad enough… but to keep on repeating that same mistake is completely unacceptable.
Being full members of P.G.I. (Pyrotechnics Guild International) ensures that we at The Firework Shop are kept fully up to date with the latest news and developments in the firework world, and also provides us with a forum for discussion of our procedures and ideas with some of the biggest and most professional pyrotechnic experts in the world!
Unfortunately the regulations surrounding pyrotechnics, and their sale/shooting, is pretty lax here in Thailand, and make it relatively easy for anyone to set themselves up as a self-proclaimed ‘expert’, thereafter marketing themselves as such… after all, most people believe what they read on a web site, don’t they? The fact that a particular supplier may have an abominable safety record, and/or has little or no experience in pyrotechnics, does not stop them from applying for (and getting) a licence to sell or shoot fireworks, as little or no background checking is done.
Whilst we at The Firework Shop in no way agree with extremes that some ‘Nanny-state’ countries have gone to in restricting the use of fireworks (in England, for example, even ‘sparklers’ cannot be used in public places, as they ‘present a danger to others’!), we do firmly believe that some ‘common-sense’ regulations are required here on Samui, in order to stop the firework ‘free-for-all’ that currently exists, and to the ensure the safety of the island’s residents, as well as those coming here for a ‘holiday of a life-time’.
At the moment it is far too easy to take advantage of the lack of consistent control and lack of enforcement of the few regulations that currently exist.
It was The Firework Shop that first imposed on itself a 9:30pm ‘curfew’ for shooting fireworks (10pm in the less populated areas, and only with police permission), and restricting the size of the bigger mortars to 6 inches in diameter in areas where larger diameter mortars were not appropriate. This was then taken up by 2 other respectable suppliers on the island, and then officially by police and tessabahn (local government). It is with this kind of basic regulation in mind that The Firework Shop is writing a report on the firework situation on Samui. The report will suggest (among other things) possible guidelines on the safe use of fireworks, basic restrictions as regards the availability of fireworks to the general public, as well as possible enforcement strategies that could be implemented… all with the intention of keeping residents and visitors to our wonderful island as safe as possible, whilst still managing to provide the drama and excitement of a safe and professionally presented firework display to celebrate their special occasion. The report will be made available to Samui’s senior officials, including Ny Amphur, the Mayor, and senior police, and will – we hope – lead to a safer Samui in the long term.
Alan & La-on
The Firework Shop – Samui’s Pyro-professionals