East Dunbartonshire residents celebrating Bonfire Night can help prevent tragedy by choosing organised events over DIY displays.
The area’s Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) local senior officer has appealed for the public to recognise the risks as his firefighters prepare for a time when crews can see a 40 per cent increase in the number of incidents.
Area Manager Paul Connelly said: “This is one of our busiest times of year and illegally built bonfires tie-up firefighters when they could be needed at a real emergency.
“We would discourage members of the public from having a garden or street bonfire and ask them instead to join Scotland’s fight against fire and attend an organised display.
“These are not only far more spectacular than DIY displays or unofficial events, they’re also far safer.
“We’ve seen too many incidents where someone has suffered horrific injuries as a result of things going wrong with fireworks or illegal bonfires.
“Fireworks are obviously dangerous and the fact is careless and poorly built bonfires threaten to set fire to neighbouring properties.
“They also release toxic fumes into the local atmosphere and this can cause serious problems for people who have breathing conditions like asthma.”
As Bonfire Night approaches East Dunbartonshire Bonfire and Fireworks Safety Group has launched its ‘Be Safe – Not Sorry’ bonfire and fireworks safety campaign.
Formed under the East Dunbartonshire Community Safety Partnership, the group brings SFRS together with Police Scotland, Trading Standards and the council’s education department and grounds maintenance section.
The group is keen to get its safety message out to the public and will visit all primary and secondary schools in East Dunbartonshire to encourage pupils to be safe – not sorry on Bonfire Night.
It will also warn of the dangers associated with antisocial behavior and fireworks and primary pupils will be given a sticker with the message “Fireworks – Be Safe” to encourage them to be aware of the risks and stay safe.
Pupils in P5, P6 and P7 will produce their own fireworks safety message through a poster competition making them aware of the dangers of fireworks.
The group will also work together to help prevent illegal bonfires and fires in household wheeled bins.
Clive Lewis, team leader of East Dunbartonshire Trading Standards, said: “If you intend to have your own fireworks, Trading Standards’ advice is to only buy fireworks from legitimate sources and follow the fireworks code.
“Residents are also reminded to check that you buy the right kind of fireworks for your chosen spot as most gardens are less than half the size of the recommended safety distance for fireworks normally sold in shops.”
Officers from Trading Standards will visit fireworks’ retailers to inspect their arrangements for storing fireworks safely and to remind them that they cannot sell to anyone under 18.
Police Scotland Sub Divisional Commander Rob Hay said: "East Dunbartonshire Community Safety Partnership along with the Bonfire and Fireworks Safety Group have been working with a common purpose to make this years Bonfire Night as safe as possible in order that members of the public can enjoy the evening.
“Unfortunately anti-social and irresponsible behavior can contribute to the many incidents leading up to and on Bonfire Night.
“As such Police Scotland will in conjunction with our partners be proactively tackling the misuse of fireworks and illegal bonfires, and any breaches of the legislation associated with fireworks will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.
If anyone has information regarding the illegal use of fireworks or is concerned regarding the construction of a bonfire please do not hesitate to contact East Dunbartonshire Council’s Contact Centre 0300 123 4510 or Police Scotland via 101.