Dangers of fireworks and bonfires highlighted

Telford & Wrekin Council and its partners are underlining the dangers of private firework displays due to large-scale public events being cancelled and the Coronavirus pandemic.

Dangers of fireworks and bonfires highlighted

The Council, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, West Mercia Police and West Midlands Ambulance Service are all asking people to also avoid gatherings not in line with the Government’s current Coronavirus laws including the 'Rule of Six'.

Chief Fire Officer Rod Hammerton said: “We are discouraging private, unregulated bonfires and home firework events this year.

“We’re concerned about the additional strain this will place on all the emergency services due to so many larger events, often with hundreds and some even thousands of people attending, not going ahead this year.

“We usually offer support and guidance to people about how to host safe events and we will continue to do this however we urge people to avoid garden or community gatherings.”

“People are injured by fireworks and admitted to hospital with children particularly at risk. Between 2014 –19 there were more than 1,000 severe burn injuries involving fireworks in England and Wales, with 38% of these in youngsters under 15 years of age and the majority - 67% sustained by males.”

Councillor Richard Overton, Telford & Wrekin Council’s Cabinet Member for Enforcement, added: “Our Enforcement officers will be on patrol across the borough to deal with any piles of rubbish and make sure they don’t end up as bonfires.

“We know where the hotspot areas are for anti-social behaviour and we will be targeting those areas.

“We ask anyone who sees a pile of rubbish to report it to us and we will as always, treat it as a fly-tip, investigate and, if we identify who is responsible, issue them with a Fixed Penalty Notice for £400.”

The COVID-19 restrictions currently includes the 'Rule of Six' which applies to both indoor and outdoor settings, with police able to disperse gatherings of over six people and fine individuals involved. People should also follow the guidelines on social distancing and limit contact with people outside of their household bubble and avoid attending public events.  

Shropshire Superintendent Mo Lansdale said: "We know the vast majority of people are adhering to the new COVID-19 legislation including the ‘Rule of Six’ and are acting incredibly responsibly. 

"As people are not able to go to large organised events this year for Bonfire Night, there will be a temptation to host or attend smaller gatherings with loved ones. Please ensure you continue to practice the Rule of Six and keep in line with the COVID-19 regulations, and we ask that you carry out your celebrations in a safe and responsible manner.  

"We will continue to support our emergency service partners and hope you will follow their advice to keep yourselves, friends and family safe."

The facts around fireworks are stark:

•A sparkler reaches a temperature of up to 2,000 degrees Celsius - that's 20 times the boiling point of water. Three sparklers burning together generate the same heat as a blow-torch!

•A rocket can reach 150 miles an hour and go as high as 200 metres – imagine the damage one hitting you could cause

•The highest number of firework-related injuries happen at family or private parties

•The most common injuries are to hands followed by eyes and faces

West Midlands Ambulance Service, Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer, Nathan Hudson, said: “With the cancellation of organised events, we have a real concern that we will see an increase in injuries this Bonfire Night.

“In previous years, there have been patients who have suffered injuries that are so severe that a year on, they are still receiving specialist treatment! 

“The damage that can be caused can have a lifelong impact with particularly severe consequences for children.

“Fireworks night is fabulous event, but the risks this year are even more serious due to the risks associated with COVID-19. Keeping you and your family safe has got to outweigh the joy of a few fireworks in the back garden.”

If you are planning to use fireworks please ensure you do this responsibly and safely. Many gardens are not big enough to safely contain a bonfire, if you insist on holding a private event, please click here for further safety advice.  

In Telford there is no byelaw prohibiting garden bonfires or specifying times they can be lit. If a garden fire is causing a smoke nuisamce, please report it here.