Partners in Highland encouraging public to make 2014 bonfire night safest ever

Multi-agency partners in Highland are appealing to the public to help make the 2014 Bonfire Night one of the safest ever.

Bonfire Night is traditionally one of the busiest nights of the year for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).  

The number of emergency calls typically increases by 40% throughout the period and SFRS is up to four times busier on 5 November than any other night of the year.

Across Scotland from 2009 to 2012, the number of secondary fires, which includes bonfires and refuse fires, averaged 1118.  

In 2013 there was a significant drop in this number to 517 bonfires on November 5th, with an overall drop in secondary fires of around 40% compared to 2012. SFRS aims to maintain and improve upon this decline in calls for Bonfire Night 2014.  

In 2013 firefighters responded to 18 incidents across the Highlands and Islands, five bonfires (three left unattended, one well alight and one in the open which had responsible adults in attendance). There were no attacks on firefighters/vehicles. 

The Service and its partners are appealing to the public to stay safe this Bonfire Night by attending organised events rather than staging their own bonfires or fireworks displays.  

SFRS Local Senior Officer for Highland, Scott Hay, said: “We want to make 2014 one of the safest Bonfire Nights ever and we are appealing to the public who may be planning their own bonfire to consider attending an organised display instead.

“Organised events are well organised, normally more spectacular and crucially safer for you, your family and friends.”  

He added: “Our attendance at bonfires could mean our resources are being taken away from other emergencies and calls to assist people in danger. It could have tragic consequences for those who urgently need our help.  

“We want everyone to be able to celebrate the 5th November safely and in a way that doesn’t require the intervention of the emergency services.

“In the run up to Bonfire Night 2014 our Service personnel will be going to schools across Highland to teach children about the dangers associated with bonfires and fireworks.”  

LSO Hay concluded: “We can all play a part in making this time of year safer. It is against the law for fireworks to be sold to children and young people. If you are aware of this happening please report it to Police Scotland or Trading Standards.

“We would also encourage the public to report unsafe or dangerous bonfires or bonfire materials and any suspicions of deliberate fire setting. In doing this, we can keep our communities safer together.  

“The public are requested to pass on any information about who may be responsible for fire setting to Police Scotland using the 101 non-emergency number or Scotland Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.”  

Police Scotland Chief Inspector in Highland, Iain MacLelland said: “We urge everyone to follow the safety advice given by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in respect of bonfires and use of fireworks. We want people to enjoy the time of year in safety and recommend that organised displays or events are the best way to do so.

"At this time of year, we also receive a number of calls relating to the irresponsible and illegal use of fireworks in public places. I would therefore remind everyone that it is not just illegal to sell or supply fireworks to a person under the age of 18 but it is also illegal for any person under the age of 18 to be in possession of a firework in a public place. We appeal to retailers and parents to be aware of the law to assist us in keeping fireworks out of the hands of young people."

One of the most high profile displays takes place every year in the Highland capital, Inverness.  

The Provost of Inverness, Councillor Alex Graham said: "Every year Inverness stages the North’s biggest Bonfire and Fireworks Display which is enjoyed by many thousands of residents. It is mainly funded by the Inverness Common Good Fund as part of the Inverness Winter Festival, with much appreciated support from our local business community who donate the thousands of pallets needed to build the 50 foot high bonfire that towers over Bught Park.  

“Fireworks need to be treated with the utmost respect and this event, which is free, ensures that everyone in Inverness remembers the 5th of November for all the right reasons. We encourage anyone considering their own private fireworks display or bonfire not to do so and just leave it to the experts.”  

The Highland Council fireworks display on 5 November 2014 will take place at Bught Park from 7pm onwards with entertainment from the Inverness Legion and Inverness Youth Pipe Bands. The bonfire will be lit at 7.30pm. Approximately twenty minutes later at around 7.50pm the award winning Fireworx Scotland will fire a 20 minute fireworks display. For more information visit the Inverness Festivals website at www.invernessfestivals.com

SFRS have produced lots of guidance and safety tips about Bonfire Night 2014, available online now at http://bit.ly/SFRSbonfire2014

Advice includes information about bonfire and fireworks safety (including a bonfire and fireworks safety leaflet available for download) along with links to our TV, radio and press advertisements.  

SFRS will be offering tips on staying safe in the lead up to Bonfire Night through our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.  

ENDS

27 Oct 2014
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