Monday, November 05, 2007

Distorted fireworks

More distortion in the Herald today, this time with fireworks as the target.

They claim that "at least nine people were injured in fireworks-related incidents at the weekend" and report calls for a ban on all private firework sales. Apparently we have been told by the Prime Minister to "behave" or fireworks will be banned.

Let's examine those reported nine injuries:

Incident 1 was two kids slightly injured when a home firework malfunctioned and shot fireballs, apparently with enough force that they were still able to inflict burns 10m away.

Incident 2 was three children slightly injured by a faulty firework at a public display.

Incident 3 was a 22-year old man with an eye injury from a private firework. No details are provided on what happened.

Incident 4 was two idiots in the South Island1 throwing petrol on a fire and each other on top. This dumbass accident involved petrol not fireworks.

Incident 5 was a professional pyrotechnics operator injured by a firework at a public display.

So actually, three people were injured by the private use of fireworks. Four people were injured at public displays. Two were injured by stupidity with gasoline, which I assume the government isn't going to ban, at least until supplies run dry.

Two, maybe three of the injuries stemmed from "misbehaviour" rather than product or procedural failure. Only one of these involved fireworks (and we don't know they were being dumb, it might have been another dud).

But the Herald manages to turn no evidence whatever that anyone was injured by fooling with fireworks into an unanimous call for a ban. They didn't even question the fire chief when he said "[the new restrictions] are a positive thing but they just don't work". They're meant to be journalists - should they not have asked what his criteria was for a success? Or why he was saying that, when *nobody* had been seriously injured in Auckland as a result of fooling with fireworks. Should they maybe have asked whether the reduced sale time for fireworks was having a bad effect on product quality?

1. What is with South Islanders? They're only a quarter of the population but account for a disproportionate amount of dumbass injuries (eating ten party pills at a go also springs to mind). Maybe just the South Island needs a ban on anything flammable, toxic, or longer than it's wide?


Margaret said...

I find it odd that it's really possible for there to be much judgement of whether the new restrictions are working (or not) before the first Guy Fawkes they have applied to. Surely it will take a little time to review how it went this year, compared to past years?

llew said...

Hey, off topic - how coem this blog says you're in AUckland, but your PA System profile says your in Kelburn?

Rich said...

Coz I've moved to Welly and clearly haven't updated Blogger. Well spotted.

llew said...

Moved to my 'hood. Whereabouts in Kelburn? I'm near the cable car - look out for me (middle aged, middle spread grey haired guy, with a golden labrador in tow. Or towing.