As thousands prepare for Bonfire Night celebrations, emergency services have issued a plea for people to “be safe, act responsibly and have fun”.
With most public displays across the north and north-east being cancelled once again this year, a record number of residents are expected to hold the celebrations privately.
This has called for a safety warning from organisations – including fire service, police, Trading Standards, as well as local authorities – to highlight the risks of misusing fireworks.
Station commander for prevention and protection in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray, Craig Shand, said the most important part is making residents aware and educating them about the necessary safety measures.
He said: “It would have been a lot more helpful if we had an organised public event because it would have taken the threat and risk of people doing their own events in the back gardens.
“That’s why it’s important to send the message that if you are going to purchase fireworks, you need to use them safely.
“We also encourage people that if they are setting up fireworks they think of residential areas, care homes, shelter housing, as well as pets.
“Enjoy yourselves, but be safe and act responsibly.”
One of the busiest nights for emergency services
The partnership has been working for several months to prepare with a contingency plan to keep people safe for what is expected to be one of the busiest nights for emergency services.
Mr Shand also stressed that, although they will “always respond when required”, it’s important to be responsible and urged people to get in touch if they have any safety concerns.
The fire service attended 760 incidents in a 24-hour period around November 5 last year.
A total of 540 of these were between 5pm and midnight and around 90% of them were deliberately started fires.
New laws were introduced earlier this year to curb excessive firework use and improve safety.
It is now illegal to set off fireworks before 6pm and after 11pm – although the curfew has been extended to midnight on November 5, Hogmanay, Chinese New Year and Diwali.
Additionally, fireworks can only now be bought between 7am and 6pm.
Sergeant Adam Mellis and social media officer for the north-east police division, Alison Cameron, said it was important to keep a balance between reassuring and educating people without scaremongering them.
Sgt Mellis said: “It’s about explaining to people why we are asking them to do this – we are not trying to stop their fun, we just want them to appreciate that other people are affected and keep themselves and others safe.
“Be considerate of others as it also affects people with autism, who can be adversely affected by loud noises, people with pets and also kids, as it can sometimes be quite intimidating for them.”
What is the Bonfire safety advice?
- Never drink alcohol if you are attending a bonfire or setting of fireworks.
- Bonfires should comprise of untreated wood and paper-based materials only.
- Never throw objects or fireworks in a bonfire and stay at a distance.
- Never use flammable liquids to ignite bonfires.
- Sparks, flying embers or burning debris must not endanger nearby property.
- Never leave a burning or smouldering bonfire unsupervised – make sure it’s completely extinguished.
How to follow the fireworks code?
- Plan your fireworks display to make it safe and enjoyable, and ensure it finishes before 11pm.
- Only buy fireworks which carry the CR mark, keep them in a closed metal box and take them one at a time.
- Always read and follow the instruction on each firework.
- Light the fireworks at arm’s length with taper and stand well back.
- Never return to a firework once it has been lit – even if hasn’t gone off it could still explode.
- Don’t put fireworks in pockets and never throw them.
- Supervise children with sparklers and never give them to a child under five.
- Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves.
- Put used sparklers hot end down into a bucket of sand or water.