ROSEBUD Fire Rescue senior station officer Neil Schlipalius blamed illegal fireworks for a “good proportion” of the nine fires reported on New Year’s Eve.
At one fire, near the entrance to Rosebud Country Club, in Lockhart Drive, the brigade found boxes containing hundreds of illegal commercial grade fireworks ready for letting off and later destroyed them.
“I’ve never seen so many,” Mr Schlipalius said.
“And these aren’t just kids letting them off, they are all age groups with access to money to buy them because they are not cheap.”
Fireworks are also regularly being let off on the Esplanade, Safety Beach.
“Our biggest problem is that people have access to buy them,” Mr Schlipalius said. “We need to find out where they are getting them and stop the sale. It is even illegal to post them.”
Mr Schlipalius, who has served at Rosebud for 14 years, said police found it difficult to prosecute fireworks offenders because they had to catch them in the act of lighting them – not just see the effects afterward.
“We seem to be flogging a dead horse,” he said. “They are let off all the time. I guarantee we will see them again tonight.”
Mr Schlipalius said the brigade “got right on top of” the many New Year’s Eve fires they attended to prevent them from spreading.
“The workload was high and we had trucks running all over the peninsula,” he said.
“However, this year the grass was a lot greener and there were fewer campers on the foreshore; so there were no jobs there as in previous years.”
Mathew Langdon, media adviser to Flinders MP Greg Hunt, said restrictions relating to the use of fireworks were a state issue.
“In Victoria, it is illegal for anyone other than a licensed pyrotechnician to be in possession of, or use fireworks, in Victoria,” he said.