West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) is supporting the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) call to families, warning of the dangers of holding firework displays at home this Bonfire Night.Government restrictions on social gatherings because of the pandemic mean that many public displays have been cancelled, prompting WMFS to urge families to think twice about having bonfires and fireworks at home.
Between 2014 and 2019, WMFS firefighters responded to some 1,760 bonfire and fireworks-related incidents, so WMFS is encouraging residents to help avoid a surge this year.
During the same period, there were more than 1,000 severe burn injuries involving fireworks in England and Wales, with 38% of these involving under-15s and the majority being male.
Station Commander from WMFS Samantha Samuels, said: “The pandemic has changed so much, for so many people, and we know that many people will be looking forward to holding a having a bonfire and adding some fireworks sparkle to 2020. However, we are urging families to think twice about it this year, and to find alternative and safer ways to celebrate.
“It’s important to remember that fireworks are explosives. If you feel you must go ahead with a bonfire party, please plan carefully. Be sure to buy suitable, legal fireworks and that you have enough outdoor space to use them safely, in line with the instructions that come with them.”
The distance required between spectators and fireworks will range from five to 25 metres – almost the length of three fire engines – so the garden will need to be longer than the distance shown on the firework.
Ensure that fireworks are bought from a licensed supplier or authorised retailer, who can also provide appropriate advice. Fireworks must not be bought or used by anyone under 18 and should carry the CE safety mark.
Recently-introduced Government legislation gives police the powers to fine people who break the latest lockdown measures. Restrictions on social gatherings – both nationally and locally – are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to ease pressures on the NHS.
For information on first aid for minor burns, please visit: https://www.capt.org.uk/first-aid-for-burns-and-scalds
If you do decide to go ahead with a bonfire party this year:
- Displays must finish before 11pm
- Fireworks should only be bought if they carry the CE mark
- Keep them in a closed box and use one at a time
- Instructions on each firework must be read and followed and a torch used as required
- Light fireworks at arm’s length with a taper and keep them away from naked flames, including cigarettes
- No-one should return to a firework once it has been lit
- Fireworks should never be kept pockets or thrown
- Direct fireworks well away from spectators
- Paraffin or petrol should never be used on a bonfire
- Ensure the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.