Bonfire Night 2020: Firefighters warn of pressure on emergency services ahead of November 5

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has underlined the dangers of fireworks after firefighters revealed they received more than 2,000 call outs in the lead up to bonfire night.

Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 2:38 pm

Families and communities were warned that bonfires and fireworks can cause injuries, and pose a threat to children and pets.

Firefighters were called to 2,300 deliberate fires in the four weeks leading up to Guy Fawkes night in 2019 - a fact the SFRS says puts pressure on the emergency services.

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Deputy Assistant Chief Officer (DACO) Alasdair Perry is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Head of Prevention and Protection.

Firefighters were called to 2,300 deliberate fires in the four weeks leading up to Guy Fawkes night in 2019 - a fact the SFRS says puts pressure on the emergency services. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Firefighters were called to 2,300 deliberate fires in the four weeks leading up to Guy Fawkes night in 2019 - a fact the SFRS says puts pressure on the emergency services. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

He said: "First and foremost we would urge all of our communities to follow advice and guidelines around social distancing to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

"We know this means that people may consider hosting their own events this year but we would urge caution around doing so because every year people are injured by fireworks and admitted to hospital - and children are particularly at risk."

He continued: “This is already a traditionally busy period of the year for ourselves and our partners and it is very important that we maintain an ability to respond to other emergencies.

“We are therefore strongly encouraging anyone who does wish to host a private event to reduce the risk by ensuring to familiarise themselves with our firework code and fire safety guidance. Do not take risks because the consequences can be devastating.”

November 5 is traditionally a busy night for the SFRS. Last year, Operations Control received 882 calls from members of the public and crews also responded to more than 350 bonfires within an eight-hour period – with six recorded attacks on firefighters.

DACO Perry said: "We know it's a very small minority of people who engage in anti-social behaviour, but there's no question it can impact on our firefighters and Operations Control colleagues as well as our partners.

"A deliberate fire can also put property, resources and indeed lives at risk so it goes without saying that we will always take a zero-tolerance approach to fire-setting and attacks on our crews."

The safety call was also backed by Community Safety Minister Ash Denham, who said: “Bonfire Night this year is going to feel very different and at this usual time for celebration

“I urge everyone to follow to the Scottish Government’s public health guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19). It is absolutely vital the public adhere to the rules on meeting up with other households to help stop the spread of the virus.

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and all emergency service workers have my complete support, particularly over the busy bonfire season.

“If you are planning to use fireworks please ensure you do this responsibly and safely and follow the appropriate advice on SFRS website.

"We are proud to work with young people wherever possible and open up positive pathways to them through initiatives like our Youth Volunteer Scheme.

“I would encourage others to consider initiatives like the YVS which not only teaches fire safety advice but equips young people with skills and ambitions for future success in life, learning and employment.”

For more information visit the SFRS fireworks safety page.

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