It’s the 5th of November, and there will be many challenges with Firefighters and Bonfire night this year in particular with the added situation of the Lockdown in England and social restrictions elsewhere in the country.
Why is this? Naturally people want to celebrate – after all, it’s been a difficult year for us all. But with social restrictions in place, it’s feared many people will attempt to hold Bonfire Night parties (including letting off fireworks!) on their own property.
The Fire Service is concerned that the spike that was seen in garden fires during the March lockdown may repeat itself around Bonfire Night.
From March to the end of September, the firefighters have saw a huge increase in 999 calls for fires in gardens, with he majority of these being due to fires getting out of control, being left unattended or spreading to nearby fences, sheds or buildings.
Suggestions for an alternative safer Bonfire Night have been offered, include planning a themed meal, or a having a movie or games night with the people in your household. Firefighters will be working in close contact with local authorities in the run up to Bonfire Night to help keep the number of incidents as low as possible.
Attacks on Firefighters
The Fire Brigades Union reported an astonishing 1,170 attacks on UK firefighters in 2019, with bonfire night last year seeing some “appalling” attacks on firefighters across the UK, as overstretched, under-resourced crews worked to ensure public safety.
This has included verbal and physical abuse, and in some instances reckless and endangering acts such as the throwing of fireworks.
One of the worst examples was in Manchester, where GMFRS Firefighters responding to an out of control bonfire in Hyde were attacked by a gang of around 40 young people who threw fireworks at them, and launching them in their direction.
Usually there are community or council organised events on Bonfire Night where members of the public can enjoy the celebrations in safety. However, with the current situation the vast majority of these have been cancelled, although some are still going ahead while adhering to Covid-19 safety guidelines in parts of the UK.
This the concerns that people will hold their own, private events. There’s also concern that some may be planning to have events including more individuals than are in their social ‘bubble’ or household.
Fireworks have to be handled with care, and at private events where people are more relaxed, and alcohol may be involved, things can get careless. It’s a similar situation with bonfires, where a moment of inattention can cause a situation to spiral out of control in seconds.
The risk isn’t just to property – it’s to lives.