Firework‐related injury in the Top End: a 16‐year review

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Fireworks are a culturally significant part of celebrations in many parts of the world. Fireworks can be classified as ‘display’ fireworks (Class 1.3G, formerly Class B) as used by professional public displays, and consumer fireworks (Class 1.4G, previously Class C), usually defined as containing less than 40–50 g of explosives.1 In 1978, the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia was granted self‐government from the Commonwealth of Australia, and annually since 1 July 1980, Territorians have been able to purchase and use consumer fireworks without a permit to celebrate this event. Public use of fireworks in all other states and territories of Australia have been banned or restricted due to safety concerns. Western Australia first banned consumer fireworks in 1967, Queensland in 1972, Victoria in 1985, New South Wales in 1987, South Australia in 2001 and finally Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in 2009.2 In Tasmania, members of the public may apply for a licence to operate consumer fireworks, which may be granted to ‘fit and proper adults’, although this is currently under review.3 The NT government has continued to allow public access to consumer or ‘shopgood’ fireworks, permit free, for the day on the basis that it is an important local cultural event.
Statistics have been collected on firework‐related injury (FWRI) in the NT since 19984 but this has been limited to the week after each Territory Day, and has not recorded clinical details and patient outcomes. The aim of this study is to describe the patients that are hospitalized due to injury from fireworks. Such information may provide an evidence base for targeted prevention, education and legislative measures to decrease the subsequent risk of serious FWRI in the NT.
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