Emergency services across Northumberland, Tyneside and Wearside are joining forces in the hope that this year’s Bonfire period is one of the safest on record.
Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Northumbria Police, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) are all committed to doing what they can to make sure that the coming Diwali, Hallowe'en and Bonfire season is a safe and happy one for everyone – and that includes their own staff.
This year, the services are uniting behind the use of the TWFRS’ Ryan’s Regret film, which featured the real-life story of a young man from Washington, who, by playing with fireworks in his bedroom, received significant injuries to his hand. It's a graphic and shocking account, which has provided real impact especially during the fire services' school visits, in conjunction with Northumbria Police.
Dame Vera Baird QC, Northumbria PCC, said: "This is a busy time for our emergency services who do a fantastic job and it's so important that we work together using our respective strengths to ensure the safety of everyone within our communities. I want people to have fun and enjoy themselves, while staying safe and out of harm's way. This campaign of activity will encourage people to take heed to the advice of both the police and fire and rescue services."
All emergency services are urging families to go to organised firework displays. They are also advising that families who are celebrating Diwali and Hallowe'en take care with the use of candles and ensure that children don’t wear loose clothes around them. They should also make sure that fancy-dress costumes comply with EC standards and are made from flame-retardant material.
Paul Hedley, Chief Fire Officer at NFRS, said: "Bonfire Night should be an enjoyable experience for all, however, recklessness with bonfires and fireworks can have devastating effects. Where possible, we encourage residents to visit organised public firework displays which are safer, great value and usually much more impressive, however, if anyone is planning their own firework display then we urge them to follow our safety advice very carefully."
Recent years have seen an increase in fire-related incidents over this period and also an increase in attacks on firefighters and other emergency-services personnel. Last year, attacks on firefighters during the bonfire weekend increased from four in 2015 to nine.
Northumbria Police Assistant Chief Constable, Rachel Bacon, said: "If fireworks are not used in the correct manner it can lead to disastrous consequences. We're working closely with all partners, giving advice to members of the public to ensure they enjoy a fun and safe Bonfire Night and Hallowe'en. Extra officers will be on patrol around this period. I want to encourage anyone with any concerns to call us without hesitation."