Stay safe on bonfire night

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South Ayrshire Council has again teamed up with Strathclyde Police and Strathclyde Fire and Rescue to launch Bonfire Watch for 2012 – an initiative to help the public enjoy a safe and enjoyable celebration of bonfire night.

In addition, Council officers and the Police will be making joint visits to all premises selling fireworks, working behind the scenes to make sure that these are sold under the right conditions and to the right people, with the public’s safety the utmost priority.

Councillor Rita Miller, Chair of the Community Safety Partnership said: “I’m delighted we have again received such strong support from Strathclyde Police and the Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service to run Bonfire Watch this year.

“The aim of the initiative is to reduce the harmful effects on individuals and property caused by illegally set bonfires, by clearing any potential bonfires at the earliest opportunity.

“The initiative runs from 4pm Friday 19 October until 9am Monday 12 November and our Community Support Officers will be patrolling in targeted areas in the local community to check on illegal bonfire setting.

“I’d also encourage anyone who suspects a bonfire is being set illegally to contact the Council free on 0300 123 0900, or outside normal office hours ring the police.”

Bonfire Watch is also promoting the message that the safest way to enjoy a bonfire is to go along to a properly organised one.

Chief Inspector Neil Kerr from Strathclyde Police added: “We are pleased to be working closely with South Ayrshire Council and our colleagues in the Fire and Rescue Service to make sure people have a safe and fantastic bonfire night through the Bonfire Watch initiative.

“This is one way we can reduce the number of casualties and incidents of antisocial behaviour at bonfires and we also endorse the Council’s advice on fireworks.

“I’d also point out that it is now illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess fireworks, or to be sold them and apart from bonfire night itself, it is illegal to set them off after 11pm.”

Group Commander Billy Thomson from Strathclyde Fire and Rescue added: “Bonfire Watch is particularly effective because it removed illegally set bonfires before they have a chance to be completed.

“Nearby litter and debris is also removed from the local area, making it more difficult for fires to be set and we’ve seen a steady decline in illegal fires from 2008, when we attended 35 such incidents, to eight last year – a saving to the public of almost £70,000 on call out costs – and a superb indicator as to how effective the Bonfire Watch campaign has been.”

In addition to Bonfire Watch, the Council is also working to reduce the number of incidents involving fireworks.

John McDowall, Portfolio Holder for Trading Standards explained: “Fireworks can only be sold between 15 October and 10 November each year. Sellers must be registered or licensed and must make sure storage conditions are safe. Only those fireworks complying with the British Standard can be sold and certain types of firework, such as bangers and air-bombs, are banned.

“The legal age to purchase fireworks is 18 years and retailers are encouraged to request proof of age from anyone who appears to be under the age of 25 and our Trading Standards service will be working in the background with Strathclyde Police, to make sure retailers are complying with these requirements.

“Bonfires and fireworks are exciting and a tradition enjoyed by thousands of people across the local area and our goal is simple – to keep people safe, while having lots of fun.”

Children - including babies and toddlers - suffer over half of all firework injuries and while their scars may heal, the trauma of an accident can last for years.

By sticking to some basic rules such as the Firework Code and keeping children a safe distance from children and not using them under the influence of alcohol, people can avoid the risk of accident, serious injury or even death.

Councillor Miller concluded: “I’d also ask that people exercise consideration for our pets and animals, who are easily frightened by the noise fireworks make. Try to keep them indoors and try to create a relaxed and stress-free home environment for them.

“We’re looking forward to some wonderfully entertaining and exciting evenings with bonfires and fireworks that go with a bang and create a real buzz.

“But please, do play it safe in 2012 – and make sure your night is one to remember for all the right reasons!”

There are many organised firework displays in South Ayrshire including:

Ayr; Ayr Racecourse on Wednesday 7 November 2012 in aid of the Ayrshire Hospice. Tickets are on sale at the Citadel in Ayr, if bought in advance the cost is £3 and if at the event the cost is £5.

Girvan; Girvan beach on Saturday 3 November 2012 after a lanterns parade through the town organised by the Community Rural Arts Group. There will be a small fairground next to the boating lake.