4,000 firefighters prep for Lunar New Year
Updated: 2006-01-28 20:39
The Chinese capital prepared to usher in the Lunar New Year with bang
Saturday, after authorities lifted a 12-year ban on fireworks.
Chinese drummers perform during the opening of
the temple of the earth park temple fair, as the nation brings in the
Lunar New Year during Spring Festival in Beijing, China Saturday Jan. 28,
2006.The Spring Festival falls on the 1st day of the 1st lunar month,
often one month later than the Gregorian calendar.
As residents stocked up on fireworks,
officials were urging caution, fearing the sharp rise in injuries and fires that
accompanied the holiday period before the ban was imposed.
About 4,000 firefighters were placed on standby, with 21 fire engines and 129
firefighters dispatched to the most densely populated areas of Beijing, the
Beijing Youth Daily newspaper reported.
The city's hot line for reporting fires told the newspaper it had expanded
its regular team of four to 40 to cope with the expected flood of calls after
The new rules allow Beijing residents to explode fireworks all day on Jan. 28
and 29 ¡ª New Year's Eve and New Year's Day ¡ª and from 7 a.m. to midnight every
day from Jan. 30 to Feb. 12.
About 3,000 police and community officers will patrol off-limits areas such
as schools, retirement homes and historic relics, the Beijing Daily newspaper
The thundering explosions of fireworks were expected to reach their peak just
before and after the start of New Year's Day, as millions take part in a
thousands-year-old tradition meant to drive away bad luck and scare off evil
But it seemed many residents couldn't wait, and by 6 p.m. Saturday the
capital's streets echoed with the sounds of exploding firecrackers.
Beijing lifted the ban after a survey last year found that 70 percent of
residents felt fireworks made the holiday period more festive.
"We have had this ban for more than a decade, but lifting it shows that the
government is considering the ordinary person's desire to set off fireworks in
the traditional way," said a 23-year-old waittress who gave only her first name,
"Now it is safer, as we can buy legal fireworks in designated stores," she
Earlier this month, 585 shops in the city center received permits to sell
fireworks from Dec. 1.
"Sales have been very good," said a Beijing store manager who gave her name
only as Zheng.
Zheng said she had already sold $12,500 worth of fireworks, with the cheapest
being the most popular.
But not everyone was so keen on lifting the ban.
"It causes pollution and injuries and too many paper scraps, causing heavy
work for cleaners," said the manager of a Beijing hotel, who gave his name only
"They should find some other way to celebrate the new year," he said.