Drawing lessons from the riots and attacks on emergency services that occurred on New Year’s Eve 2023, Germany’s emergency services are preparing to be present in large numbers during the year-end festivities across the country, appealing to the public to be peaceful as the sale of fireworks started on Thursday.
“We are going into action together so that you can celebrate New Year’s Eve safely and to help you if you need us,” the police and fire departments in Berlin said in a joint video published on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “Don’t attack us.”
In the German capital Berlin, which was a hotspot for violence last year, the police are planning a major operation. “It is the largest police operation on New Year’s Eve in recent decades,” Berlin’s Police Commissioner Barbara Slowik said earlier this week.
Accident insurers also warned against a repeat of the attacks on rescue services seen a year ago. “This violence must stop. People who rush to help others must not have to fear for their own safety and health,” stressed Stefan Hussy, director general of the German Social Accident Insurance.
Last year, in some districts of Berlin and other major German cities, police officers, firefighters and paramedics became the target of deliberate attacks with firecrackers, with at least 30 of them being seriously injured in Berlin alone.
So far, there is no general ban on fireworks in Germany. Cities and municipalities can independently prohibit the setting off of fireworks in certain areas.
By law, the burning of pyrotechnics is prohibited near churches or hospitals. Violations of explosives regulations will be punished as an administrative offense with fines of up to 50,000 euros (55,640 U.S. dollars). Handling unauthorized fireworks is considered a criminal offense in Germany.
Various groups, such as the police union, the German Medical Association and Environmental Action Germany, are calling for a ban on firecrackers and rocket fireworks for private use. (1 euro = 1.11 U.S. dollar) ■