Call for urgent reform on fireworks to stop communities being terrorised at New Year

Urgent reform of fireworks sales is needed to stop families being left ‘terrified’ and ‘terrorised’ in their own homes around Bonfire Night and New Year.

Call for urgent reform on fireworks to stop communities being terrorised at New Year
Call for urgent reform on fireworks to stop communities being terrorised at New Year

Annual November 5 celebrations are traditionally the busiest time of year for firefighters, with a surge in call outs, as well as attacks by ‘mindless individuals’, to contend with.

But a particularly busy year has prompted emergency service chiefs in Tyne and Wear to call for tougher rules, as they brace for a fresh rise in incidents marking the end of 2020.

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“A lot of our residents felt terrorised by fireworks in the weeks around Bonfire Night,” said Nick Forbes, vice chairman of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority.

Tyne And Wear Fire And Rescue Service Hq

“I don’t know why, but it felt to me like there was even more disturbance every night going on which I got a lot of complaints about and I’m sure others did too.

“It’s not just the noise, it’s the effect on pets and vulnerable people and it adds to the sense of being under fire in your own home or neighbourhood.

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“I think we need to look again at the regulatory framework around the purchase of fireworks.”

Forbes, who is also the leader of Newcastle City Council, was speaking at this morning’s (Monday, December 14) meeting of the fire authority, which oversees the work of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service).

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Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes

According to a report for the panel, which met by videolink, the brigade was called out to more than 450 incidents over the Bonfire Night period this year (2020).

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Over that time, fire crews were the target of four attacks, while they also had to tackle at least three blazes thought to have been caused by fireworks.

Forbes added he was particularly worried that growing online sales, a trend accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, may be limiting the authority’s ability to clamp down on rogue sellers.

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In the run up to November 5, almost 300 kg of fireworks were seized after they were found being stored or sold illegally or which did not meet safety standards.

Forbes said: “My worry is if we don’t keep up with the way the world is changing we will have continued problems with this, not just at [the Bonfire Night period] but other times such as New Year

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“The last thing we need is yet another round of people feeling terrorised and under threat of going out because of people chucking fireworks around, letting them off indiscriminately and causing the kind of nuisance which make people feel terrified.”

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