Make sure it’s only the fireworks that go bang

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Firefighters are reminding residents to stay safe with fireworks and bonfires this year as Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) prepares to see an increase in 999 calls during the season.

Bonfire night is always one of the busiest periods of the year for firefighters, who will regularly be called to out of control bonfires and blazes started by fireworks that have set light to hedges, outbuildings and even homes.

CFRS is asking residents for their help to make sure this bonfire night fire engine sirens do not drown out the sound of fireworks.

Last year (2012), during the bonfire night season (October 22 to November 10), crews were called out to a total of 46 fires in Cambridgeshire. During the same period, crews were also called to 23 false alarms. The property involved in these incidents and false alarms was either outdoor (rubbish, hedges, trees, garden vegetation) or outdoor structures (including wheelie bins, skips, fences).

Gary Mitchley, Community Risk Manager at CFRS, said: “We are urging people in Cambridgeshire to ensure these events remain fun for everyone involved and that people stay safe this year.

“Bonfires can very easily spread to nearby homes, outbuildings, trees and fences. Fireworks are extremely dangerous if not used correctly and can easily maim or kill the person using them, or those nearby.

“We also get many 999 calls during the bonfire season to incidents that people think are fires, but are actually controlled bonfires in people’s gardens. We would urge people to check - if possible - before dialling 999, but obviously if they are in any doubt they should dial 999 immediately.”

How to stay safe while making sure your display goes off with a bang:

Bonfires

• Don’t light bonfires in unsuitable weather, particularly in windy conditions. Be aware of where smoke is blowing also.

• Don’t leave bonfires unattended.

• If the bonfire has to be left it should be dampened down with water. Keep a bucket of water or a hosepipe handy just in case.

• Build bonfires well clear of buildings, fences and hedge.

• Never use flammable liquids to start the fire and never burn dangerous rubbish such as aerosols, paint, foam furniture, rubber tyres, batteries, etc.

• Before you light the bonfire, check children and animals are not hiding inside and are a safe distance away.

Fireworks

CFRS recommends going to an organised firework display instead of holding one at home. However, if you do intend to use fireworks at home:

• Buy fireworks marked BS 7114.

• Keep fireworks in a closed box and follow the instructions.

• Light them at arms length using a taper and stand well back.

• Never go back to a lit firework.

• Never put fireworks in your pocket.

• Never throw fireworks.

• Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves. Sparklers can reach temperature of up to 2,000°C.

• Never give sparklers to children under five.

Note also that it is illegal to sell fireworks to anyone under the age of 18 and it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess fireworks in a public place It is also worth noting if you own a business or residential property with automatic fire alarms, ensure all windows are closed, otherwise smoke from a nearby bonfire could enter the building and set off the alarms system.