Fireworks business booming despite pandemic, says Winnipeg retailer

Fireworks retailers say they've seen higher demand this year. Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/Global News

Although most traditional Canada Day fireworks displays across Winnipeg cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a local fireworks retailer says business is booming with individual customers looking to put on their own back yard show.

“It’s been a strange one,” Matt Bialek, president of Red Bomb Fireworks, told 680 CJOB.

“When we were first working through the COVID crisis, the numbers looked absolutely bleak, but I think fireworks, honestly, are probably one of the antidotes against COVID, given what we’re seeing.

“People are so bored with COVID that they’re looking to head out to their back yard and do things that don’t involve a lot of public input — and fireworks is certainly on the agenda.”

Bialek said he thinks municipal governments have made the right choice when it comes to cancelling the large-scale, public displays, as we’re still navigating the coronavirus crisis, and social distancing remains important.

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Fireworks, though, continue to fly off the shelves as Winnipeggers plan their own displays.

There are, Bialek said, a few safety tips to keep in mind if you want your fireworks show to go off without a hitch.

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“You can get a group of one, two, three, four, five people in the back yard and have a safe show.

“First and foremost, if you own property in Winnipeg and you’re planning your own back yard show, make sure that you get a permit from the City of Winnipeg,” he said.

“For most municipal RMs in the Winnipeg vicinity, fortunately, you don’t need a permit there, but you still have to use fireworks in a safe and respectful manner, so you want to read all the instructions on the packaging.”

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More information about the permits, which are available free of charge, is available on the city’s website.

That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s a free-for-all. The city has fairly stringent regulations about who can use fireworks within the city’s borders, and how they can be used.

Sherry Reich, the city’s director of fire prevention, told Global News earlier this week that Winnipeggers have to own the property that they want to set up on.

“If you want to fire on city-owned land, you have to get permission from the city,” said Reich.

Requests to ignite fireworks on soccer fields and other city grounds are common, said Reich, because of the safety distance regulations involved.

“You have to have 100 feet of clearance in all directions,” she said, “to any property lines or combustibles or buildings.”

Bialek said one item that is often overlooked when setting up a DIY fireworks display is just giving your neighbours the heads-up that the show is going to happen.

“You want to make sure that, if you have neighbours, you have courtesy for them,” he said.

“You don’t want to be out shooting your fireworks at 11:30 (p.m.), or worse yet, at two in the morning.”

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