Dhe return of the big New Year’s Eve firecrackers in Germany has been overshadowed by serious accidents and criminal offenses involving fireworks and attacks on emergency services. A 17-year-old in Leipzig was injured so badly when using pyrotechnics that he died in the hospital, the police said. As a reaction to attacks against emergency services around the turn of the year and to several serious firecracker accidents, a general ban on fireworks in the hands of private individuals is being discussed again.
The Berlin police reported massive attacks on emergency and rescue services on New Year’s Eve. The fire brigade and police counted a total of 33 injured emergency services in the capital. The fire brigade was surprised “by the mass and intensity of the attacks on our emergency services”. Among other things, beer crates and fire extinguishers were thrown at vehicles, rescuers were shot at with pyrotechnics while extinguishing and emergency vehicles were looted. “There is no justification for this behavior and I can only condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” said state fire director Karsten Homrighausen.
In response to the attacks, the Berlin police union, among others, is demanding that a far-reaching ban on firecrackers be taken seriously. “We have seen across Germany that pyrotechnics are being used specifically as a weapon against people,” criticized GdP country chief Stephan Weh. This must come to an end. However, a ban is only realistic if it is not discussed again until December. A sales ban is needed for everyone who does not work professionally with pyrotechnics.
Union and FDP politicians opposed a general ban on firecrackers on New Year’s Day. “The attacks on the police, fire brigade and rescue workers on New Year’s Eve are downright absurd and despicable,” said the first parliamentary manager of the Union faction in the Bundestag, Thorsten Frei (CDU), the “Rheinische Post”. However, the behavior of criminals should not mean “that the many peaceful revelers should also be subject to a general ban on fireworks”. The municipalities already have the option of imposing a ban on fireworks in certain places and at certain times: “That’s reasonable.”
The parliamentary manager of the FDP parliamentary group, Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus, argued similarly in the same newspaper: “A general ban on firecrackers would not be expedient, especially since cities have the opportunity to issue partial fireworks bans.” The deputy chairman of the SPD parliamentary group, Dirk Wiese, also spoke to “Bild” in favor of a ban on firecrackers in certain districts: “The attacks on those who protect us are absolutely unacceptable. Determine the perpetrators, immediately clear and severe penalties, next year then reporting obligation on New Year’s Eve! In some districts it will probably only work with a complete ban on firecrackers.”
In the capital, the police and fire brigade were “massively attacked with firecrackers” when extinguishing a burning car, the police tweeted. Colleagues were “literally under fire”. On the eve of New Year’s Eve, young people in Schöneberg threw firecrackers on the street and at police officers, and five people involved were temporarily arrested.
In the preliminary balance sheet at the turn of the year, the Berlin police recorded 103 arrests. It is not only determined because of attacks on law enforcement officers, but also because of arson, violations of the explosives law or breach of the peace.
Also in Frankfurt (Oder) attacked the police with fireworks. Nobody got hurt. The suspects escaped undetected.
Both forearms amputated
Several people were seriously injured by pyrotechnics. A 42-year-old in Gotha had to have both forearms amputated after handling firecrackers ordered online, the police said. In Schleiz, a 21-year-old lost his hand in an accident involving an explosive device. The illegal ball bomb exploded as soon as it was ignited.
In Hanover, a 46-year-old man had to be operated on overnight. He had put a firecracker in a metal case, from which parts were blown out in the explosion. A man from Weißenfels in Saxony-Anhalt “blew off his left hand completely, there was nothing left to save,” said Cord Corterier from the special clinic for hand surgery in Halle. In an accident involving fireworks, a man in Jülich lost two fingers on New Year’s Eve. According to the police, the 27-year-old had glued several approved firecrackers together.
When lighting fireworks on the street, a pedestrian in Saxony-Anhalt was hit by a car and fatally injured. The 42-year-old was thrown several meters across the road by the force of the impact early on Sunday morning. He died at the scene of the accident in Schönebeck (Elbe).
The managing director of the German Environmental Aid, Jürgen Resch, referred, among other things, to the injuries and the environmental pollution caused by fireworks and called for an absolute ban on fireworks.