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Anderlecht, Forest and Saint-Gilles ban fireworks until February
Three Brussels municipalities so far have cancelled private use of end-of-year fireworks. Saint-Gilles, Anderlecht and Forest have announced a fireworks ban, effective immediately and lasting until 6 February.
While the municipalities have mentioned all the normal reason to prohibit the use of fireworks this year – injuries, fire hazards and noise nuisance – they emphasise that they want to protect first responders such as police and firefighters who are responding to various calls.
Fireworks are increasingly used against first responders at the scene of call-out. People often throw firecrackers or shoot bottle rockets in their direction. “They are now regularly used against emergency services, both against the police and the fire brigade but also against ambulances,” said the chief of Brussels South police zone, Jurgen De Landsheer. “That is why we have been pushing for this ban.”
The three municipalities are also banning the sale of fireworks of any kind within their borders as well as possession of fireworks. Any business caught selling fireworks risks a fine of between €175 and €350 and the temporary loss of their business license.
Permanent bans in other communes
Other municipalities, such as Schaerbeek and Molenbeek, have a permanent, year-round ban on fireworks. Emergency services and some politicians would like to see fireworks banned at the regional level.
“We are all Bruxellois,” Brussels MP Juan Benjumea (Groen) told parliament. “It is absurd that residents who can’t shoot off skyrockets in front of their own homes can simply go to another Brussels municipality and do it there. The minister-president should take care of this being consistent.”
It’s not necessarily that easy, however: While single municipalities can ban fireworks temporarily or permanently, and the federal government can call a temporary ban, as it did last December, the three regions are not allowed to do so. Flanders tried it in 2019, and it was struck down by the Constitutional Court the following year.
Fireworks are, in any case, included in the public safety section of the General Police Regulations. This means that police anywhere in Belgium can confiscate fireworks and hand out fines if their use is deemed to put others in danger or to be a noise nuisance – even if the municipality allows it.
Photo ©Nicolas Maeterlinck/BELGA