Have a Safe and Enjoyable Bonfire Season (30 Oct 2018)

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) and West Yorkshire Police are urging people to play it safe by going to an organised bonfire and fireworks display this year.

Firefighters and Fire Service Control Room staff are gearing up for the busiest weekend of the year and there's already been lots of preparations over the last few weeks, with everything from school visits and community engagement events to deliver safety advice.

Between Friday, 3 November, and Sunday, 5 November, 2017, firefighters attended 174 deliberate secondary fires across West Yorkshire. These included anything from grass fires to wheelie bins and rubbish.

Area Manager for Service Delivery Chris Kirby, said: "The run up to Bonfire Night is one of the busiest times of year for the emergency services, particularly due to the increased amount of anti-social fires.

"These incidents can be of significant risk for the public as they can often get out of control, but also as time spent at these fires can result in fire engines not being available to attend other emergencies.

"This can have a knock-on effect on the speed at which we can attend other emergencies, such as house fires. We appeal to the public to be vigilant around this time of year and to do what you can to help the Fire Service. For example, report any accumulation of combustible materials in the street, which could be used and set alight, to your local council."

The Fire Service wants families to enjoy the bonfire season and the best way to do this is to attend an organised event, rather than host their own, as they are often safer.

Why not attend the Fire Service's own Bonfire and Fireworks Extravaganza at the Fire Service Headquarters in Birkenshaw this Saturday, 3 November? It has a mini fireworks display with low noise for children as well as a main fireworks display later in the evening.

The Fire Service is once again running its Gone in a Flash campaign, which highlights the dangers of mishandling fireworks, and have been delivering glow in the dark wristbands to a whole host of schools so that pupils can make the 'We are Bonfire Safe' pledge.

Area Manager Chris Kirby added: "While most adults enjoy fireworks responsibly at home, in the wrong hands they can cause life threatening injuries. Fireworks are explosives and burn at extremely high temperatures and the last thing we want to see this bonfire season is anyone getting injured."

If you are intent on having an event at home, please follow the below safety advice:

  • Only responsible adults should be in charge of bonfires/fireworks
  • Keep bonfires small and manageable and build them away from houses, garages, sheds, fences, overhead cables, trees and bushes 
  • Never use flammable liquids - paraffin or petrol - to light the fire Keep everyone away from the fire - especially children - and keep pets indoors 
  • Avoid drinking alcohol whilst in charge of a bonfire or fireworks 
  • In case of an emergency, keep buckets of water, the garden hose or a fire extinguisher ready 
  • Keep fireworks in a closed metal box and use them one at a time, replacing the lid each time Light the firework at arm's length using a taper or fuse wick and stand well back - never return to a firework once it has been lit 
  • Remember you cannot buy fireworks under the age of 18 
  • Make sure your fireworks conform to EU directive and carry the CE mark 0335 or 0336 
  • Always buy from a reputable licenced retailer and read the manufacturer's guidelines, do not purchase BS7114 fireworks they are now illegal 
  • Category F4 fireworks can only be used by professionals 
  • Adult fireworks are category F2 and F3 fireworks - they do not include things like party poppers. Sparklers are category F1

You can be fined up to £5,000 and imprisoned for up to 6 months for selling or using fireworks illegally. You could also get an on-the-spot fine of £90

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Kingsman, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "The Bonfire Night period is one of the busiest times of the year for the emergency services and we will have an increased police presence on the county's streets to offer reassurance, particularly to vulnerable residents.

"Unfortunately each year we see our officers and colleagues in the fire service coming under attack by people misusing fireworks. It is worth remembering that under the uniform is someone's mother, father, daughter or son, and we need communities to rally behind our emergency services and provide information to us about anyone involved in this thoughtless and potentially very dangerous behaviour.

"Anti-social and criminal behaviour under the guise of Bonfire Night celebrations will not be tolerated. Anyone identified as being involved in such activity can expect to find themselves facing serious repercussions."

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has been running an ongoing campaign called More Than a Uniform which is publicising a zero tolerance stance on attacks on emergency crews, and is running in support of the Protect the Protectors legislation which is strengthening the penalties for such attacks.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson said: "Our emergency services have one thing in mind, which is to protect our local communities from harm over what is one of the busiest times of the year.

"Levels of demand can increase significantly over the bonfire period and it is crucial that the police, fire/rescue and ambulance services are able to go about their business uninterrupted.

"It is totally unacceptable that those putting their lives on the line for others should be confronted with any kind of hostility and there are now tougher sanctions in place to support them.

"My joint work with Halifax MP Holly Lynch and the West Yorkshire Police Federation in particular, around the newly passed 'Protect the Protectors' legislation, outlines clear consequences for perpetrators.

"Those intent on acting in this manner will quickly find themselves facing the prospect of stronger sentences, which will hopefully help to bring about a downward trend in such attacks and in turn increase safety for everyone"

Follow our campaigns this bonfire season via our Twitter page @WYFRS using #WYBonfire and our official Facebook page.

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2018