Stay safe on bonfire night

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By Lauren Gelling

Remember, remember, the fifth of November.  For most of us, it means wrapping up warm to go to the local bonfire, lighting some sparklers and watching a festive firework display. But for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service, it means wrapping up in full uniform, putting out illegal bonfires and dealing with firework incidents.

Bonfire night is an extremely busy time of the year for the Service, which has been working closely with Lothian and Borders Police and Council to deliver fire safety advice and discourage unsupervised bonfires which can be a risk to the public and greatly increase the number of calls to the fire service at this time of year.

Community Safety Manager for the Service, Geoff Aird, said: “Last year Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service received 833 call outs during the period 31st October to 7th November, compared to 2,244 calls during the same period in 2007 – a drop of 1400 calls. This reduction has been linked to the vital community safety and prevention work carried out by crews and partner organisations leading up to bonfire night, with a helping hand from the wet weather which kept the number of fires down.

“In a bid to continue this trend we’ve been delivering fire safety information and advice to schoolchildren, shops selling fireworks and to the public to highlight the dangers associated with fireworks and unsupervised bonfires.”

Every year, hundreds of people in the UK are injured by fires and fireworks.

Aird continued, “People can be seriously hurt by misusing fireworks which are very similar to explosives. Those most at risk are unsupervised children, particularly those who play with fire or who get too close to bonfires. At this time of year the Fire Service is regularly called out to extinguish uncontrolled or badly sited bonfires,  putting pressure on resources immediately available for more serious incidents, including house fires and road traffic accidents, where our life saving equipment is really needed.

“The lead up to Guy Fawkes Night is our busiest period and along with the Police, Council and others we will continue to work together to reduce the number of incidents and accidents we are called out to.  We want everyone to enjoy this time of year but stay safe and stick to supervised bonfires and firework displays”

The service recommends that bonfires should be set up at least 18 metres from any building, and must be no taller than 2.5 metres.  They also say that burning rubber, plastics, and painted surfaces – materials found in many bonfires – produces poisonous smoke that blows into neighbouring properties and across roads. In addition, piles of rubbish or waste are often used as a refuge by animals so, when lit, wildlife can be injured or killed.So by following the correct firework code, available from Lothian and Borders Fire Rescue Service, we should all have a fifth of November to remember for the right reason.