With the fireworks season fast approaching and Bonfire Night celebrations about to take place, the East Dunbartonshire Community Safety Partnership’s Bonfire and Fireworks Group has some sage advice for local people.
Fire, Police and Council officers within the Partnership have once again been working together on a joint approach with the one common aim of ensuring that local people are kept safe to enjoy the fun of Bonfire Night.
They have developed a joint protocol which aims to minimise antisocial behaviour on and around Bonfire Night. It also aims to reduce the number of bonfires being built in unsafe or dangerous locations. Officers will also work to minimise the impact of reckless and indiscriminate use of fireworks and where possible identify those involved.
Council Leader Rhondda Geekie, said: “The strong working relationships we have with Scottish Fire and Rescue and Police Scotland mean that we can all pull together at this time of year, working productively for local communities.
“For many people it is a frightening time when they feel unsettled, either at home or on the streets. It is important that they feel reassured by the work that is being done to make things as safe as possible. A clear safety message is being promoted, backed up by practical activity. For our part, the Council’s Trading Standards Service enforces legislation on the sale and storage of fireworks by retailers and has responsibilities in relation to illegal possession and use of fireworks.
“Fireworks can only be sold at specific times during fireworks season and anyone purchasing fireworks must be over 18. Our officers will closely monitor licensed retailers to make sure they are operating within the law and not selling fireworks to people who are underage.”
Stephen Ruth, Station Manager for East Dunbartonshire area said: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service advice is that members of the public should attend organised bonfire and fireworks displays and avoid any ‘unofficial’ display where safety rules may be ignored or where dangerous practices may be present.
“Fly tipping during the bonfire and fireworks season is a major cause of fire and it is also a criminal offence. Any fly tipping or build-up of refuse or combustible material that could be used on a bonfire should be reported to the Council so that relevant action can be taken.”
Chief Inspector Craig Smith, Area Commander for East Dunbartonshire said: “I want people to enjoy this time of year but would like to remind people of the potential dangers of bonfires and fireworks. I’d encourage people to attend an official organised event as the safest way to be part of the activities.
“Any irresponsible use of fireworks can cause significant injury and also have a detrimental effect on local communities due to the noise and associated anti-social behaviour. Therefore, in conjunction with our community safety partners, we will be out proactively tackling fireworks’ misuse and illegal bonfires to ensure people and communities are kept safe whilst enjoying activities at this time of year.
“I’d ask that any instances of irresponsible behaviour are reported to police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.”
Data collected across the UK in previous years shows that, on average, around 1,000 people visit A&E for treatment of a firework-related injury around Bonfire Night, with half of the injuries being suffered by under-18s. The vast majority of these injuries happen at family or private parties and in the street or other public places.
The advice, therefore, is not to gamble with safety but go to an organised display. Organised events taking place this year include:
· Glasgow Green – Wednesday 4th November (fireworks display starts at 7.30pm)
· Strathclyde Country Park, Motherwell – Thursday 5th November (display starts at 9pm)
· St Maurice’s High, Cumbernauld – Wednesday 4th November (display starts at 7.30pm)
It is important that families have the necessary safety preparations in place if they are going to host a fireworks party at home:
· Fireworks are explosives and should only be handled by responsible adults.
· Everyone should watch and enjoy fireworks at a safe distance.
· Safety rules for using sparklers should always be followed.
· Never throw fireworks.
· Consider others - people who are elderly, infirm or unwell will not appreciate the unwelcome noise or nuisance generated by some fireworks.
· Keep dogs and other pets indoors to reduce the chances of them being frightened by explosives and the misuse of fireworks.
The most important message is for everyone to follow the Fireworks Code, with details available here:
The Bonfire and Fireworks Group is particularly keen to reinforce a number of key messages on bonfires so here’s a quick guide:
· Bonfires must be sited well away from buildings, vehicles, trees, hedges, fences, power lines, and telecommunications equipment to prevent fire spread.
· Never use flammable liquids to ignite bonfires – use proprietary fire-lighters.
· Alcohol should never be consumed when tending a bonfire or setting off fireworks.
· There is a danger of explosion from any pressurised containers or sealed vessels which may be present amongst bonfire material.
· Sparks, flying embers or burning debris must not endanger nearby property.
· Ensure everyone, particularly children maintain a safe distance from the bonfire.
· Never leave a burning/smouldering fire unsupervised – make sure it is completely extinguished.
If you would like to speak to someone about fireworks safety or if you want to report the illegal sale or storage of fireworks, please contact the Council’s Trading Standards Team on 0300 123 4510 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone who has information about, or who is concerned about the construction or location of, a bonfire is encouraged to contact the Council on 0300 123 4510 or Police Scotland on 101.