Don’t be a Guy Fawkes casualty

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With November 5 (Guy Fawkes Night) fast approaching, East Dunbartonshire Community Safety Partnership’s Bonfire and Fireworks Group has public safety at the top of its agenda.

Fire, Police and council officers want to reduce the number of bonfires being built in unsafe or dangerous locations.

They also aim to minimise the impact of reckless and indiscriminate use of fireworks – and 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, 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 antisocial 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 is not to gamble with safety but go to an organised display.