What is the future of fireworks in the Netherlands?

After another New Year’s Eve filled with injuries, deaths and general terror, Dutchies must what the future of fireworks in the Netherlands is, particularly with regard to its New Year’s celebrations.

So what happened this year during the New Year’s Eve firework bonanza?

It’s time for a run down of what happened this year in Dutch firework craziness. First of all, this year 1300 people made their way to either their GP’s office, or the hospital itself, with firework related injuries. That’s more than last year, by over 100. Most of the injured were men, and most of them were also under twenty years of age. More than half of these were injured by a firework thrown by someone else, NOS reports.

Tragedy in Arnhem

This year, more than the usual mayhem took place, resulting in tragedy in Arnhem, where a father (39) and a son (4) died as a result of a fire in their apartment building caused by fireworks. The mother and daughter of the same family were severely injured as well. They were in the elevator when the apartment building caught fire and the elevator stopped, leaving them trapped. Security cameras showed that two boys, twelve and thirteen years of age, were behind the fireworks which caused the fire.

General mayhem on New Year’s Eve: time to change how fireworks in the Netherlands are used

On New Year’s Eve, the usual mayhem ensued. A police officer was kicked in the face as a result of a fireworks dispute; pyrotechnics were thrown into people’s mailboxes, and an elderly man was beaten up after asking a group of teenagers to take their fireworks elsewhere.

Debate continues to rage about fireworks in the Netherlands

The debate over whether fireworks for public use ought to be banned has been raging for the last couple of decades in the Netherlands, but it seems that we’re no closer to a conclusion. In 2000, a firework factory and storage centre in Enschede caught fire and exploded, killing 23 people and injuring almost a thousand more. For most Dutch people, NPO says, this tragedy marks the beginning of a serious debate about the future of fireworks in the Netherlands.

Some government regulations in place

The government has tried to regulate the use of fireworks, banning certain types and forbidding the use of fireworks before 18:00 on New Year’s Eve. And in 2017, the importation of illegal fireworks was also banned, leading to the police confiscating tonnes of them each year. Some municipalities have experimented with firework free zones, and professional firework shows to compensate.

Not enough manpower to enforce ban on fireworks

But in truth, there is one big reason why fireworks haven’t been banned, according to NPO. The police do not have the manpower to enforce such a ban. And because the freedom to use fireworks is close to many Dutchies’ hearts, there is not a huge amount of public will to make the change. This is particularly the case among those who feel that other Dutch traditions, like Zwarte Piet, are also under fire.

Public supports a ban, the government does not: the future of fireworks in the Netherlands is unclear

There is growing evidence, however, that the public is beginning to support a ban. Research done by bureau Citisens shows that 69 percent of the public supports a fireworks ban after the holiday period. And 50,000 people signed an online petition over the first couple of days in the New Year. The petition has now reached a quarter of a million signatures.

However, at the moment there is little government support within the coalition for such a ban.

What are your thoughts on the future of fireworks in the Netherlands? Time for an outright ban? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature image: Pexels/Pixabay

Ailish Lalor
Ailish was born in Sydney, Australia, but grew up by a forest in south-east Ireland, which she has attempted to replace with a living room filled with plants in The Hague. Besides catering to her army of pannenkoekenplantjes, Ailish spends her days convincing her friends that all food is better slightly burnt, plotting ways to hang out with dogs and cats, and of course, writing for DutchReview.


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