With great 'fun' comes great funding responsibility; fireworks sale now legal on Guam
Updated: Nov 13
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
After surviving fireworks in the legislature, a bill legalizing the sale of pyrotechnic articles is now a public law, which according to the author will “make Guam fun again.”
However, Bill 9-37 which is now Public Law 37-47, will not go into effect until creases in the statute are ironed out. Safety rules issues and funding requirements came up during the deliberation of the bill.
“While recognizing the entertainment value of consumer-grade fireworks, the Guam Fire Department which holds regulatory and enforcement authority under the bill, has also voiced concerns that the regulatory scheme contemplated in the bill will require an infusion of funding and personnel to ensure proper inspection of fireworks and storage facilities, and to effectuate enforcement measures in the event of violations,” Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said in her transmital letter to Speaker Therese Terlaje.
Despite misgivings about the measure, Leon Guerrero signed the bill into law last week, with the premise that the law “will remain in a holding pattern until the legislature passes further laws to inform the rulemaking process.”
“Our community's enthusiasm over the passage of Bill 9-37 is tempered by overriding concerns over whether the bill goes far enough to address the obvious safety issues involved in the use of consumer-grade fireworks on our island,” the governor said.
She noted, for example, the lack of restrictions for the sale period.
“These concerns appear centered around uncertainty regarding whether firework purchases will be available year-round or around particular holidays, and whether adequate measures are in place to protect against the enhanced risk of fire, particularly during the dry season,” the governor said.
At any rate, Leon Guerrero said Sen. Dwayne San Nicolas, the bill's author, started drafting follow-up legislation to further strengthen the regulatory authorization and to close any gaps in the enforcement language of the statute.
San Nicolas said the legalization of fireworks “fulfilled” his “promise to the people of Guam and that 12-year-old child from a long time ago to legalize safe and sane consumer ﬁreworks.”
“This law will not just generate new business opportunities for Guam but allow the community to use real and safe consumer ﬁreworksat their next gathering with family and friends,” San Nicolas said.
Sen. Telo Taitague, however, warned of the potential consequences of making fireworks accessible to the public anytime.
“There are no restrictions and no rules or regulations will be required by any regulatory or public safety agency. Additionally, there are no fines or restrictions for environmental damage caused by anyone detonating fireworks,” Taitague said,
“Your lawmakers did not protect the people of Guam. My colleagues obliterated all attempts to make fireworks safe. They ignored our mayors, agriculture and environmental officials, and they charged ahead with the most senseless, dangerous legislation this body has entertained this term,” she added.
San Nicolas, on the other hand, said legalizing the use of fireworks is a safer alternative to the current practice. “As we know, minors would steal their parents’ ﬁrearms and shoot them in the air as a substitute for ﬁreworks during celebrations, which is illegal and far more dangerous,” he said.
“Legalizing consumer ﬁreworks will no longer force our youth to resort to ﬁrearms, ending concern for public safety and security at gatherings. In addition to enhancing familial get-togethers, the law will create new avenues for entrepreneurs to capitalize on the need to import and sell these ﬁreworks, contributing to the island’s economy.”