Preparations ahead of Bonfire Night concerns in South Tyneside

Work is already being carried out with schools by fire brigade chiefs in a bid to help reduce deliberate fires and antisocial behaviour around Bonfire Night.
Firefighter At Night (Tyne and Wear FRS stock pic)Firefighter At Night (Tyne and Wear FRS stock pic)
Firefighter At Night (Tyne and Wear FRS stock pic)

Last year Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service had seven reports of attacks on firefighters between November 1st -6th, and 183 deliberate secondary fires, both up from the previous year.

The period is often a busy one for all blue light organisations due to the number of incidents that occur, with emergency services collaborating with partners in advance to provide key community safety advice.

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The latest meeting of West Shields, Cleadon and East Boldon Community Area Forum (CAF) heard that work is already beginning to be undertaken this year with schools looking ahead to the Bonfire Night period.

Steven Bewick, station manager at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We’re still engaging with schools and community groups to give fire safety advice.

“We’re actually looking at how we move forward and we engage with the schools at the minute for the, I know it’s only [the summer], but over to Bonfire Night.

“Trying to cut down on any antisocial behaviour fires, by getting into schools and doing the assemblies.”

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Each year the fire service works with partners to run a “Darker Nights” campaign which involves prevention and education staff and firefighters delivering bespoke lessons to schools, with support from partners.

Last year thousands of children received vital life-saving advice as members of the fire service attended 57 schools across the Tyne and Wear region as part of the campaign.

Councillors at the CAF meeting (on July 27) also called for housing officers to look at doing work to help raise awareness and prevent bonfires, and the antisocial behaviour issues linked to them, in South Tyneside Homes properties during the period.

Councillor Ernest Gibson said: “Over the years we’ve had a number of issues with people having bonfires in their garden and telling housing officers it’s a barbecue, but you don’t have a barbecue that size.”

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Gary McGuire, from South Tyneside Homes, said they do get that “from time to time throughout the year” and they take steps to tackle the issue.

He added: “Bonfires are always a problem, we do try to be proactive but folks tend to be quite inventive.”