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Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service averts major explosion risk in Newcastle and Sunderland with hauls of illegal fireworks

Date25 October 2017

A mass fireworks seizure by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) has stopped the risk of a major explosion in the West End of Newcastle.

TWFRS Fire Safety Inspectors seized just under 500Kg Net Mass (NM) of fireworks from two premises – one where the licensee was only permitted to store 75Kg NM and the other wasn’t licenced at all. They visited the licenced premises on 11th October and seized a total of 94Kg. A further visit with the Police to a garage owned by the same person, discovered a further large quantity of fireworks. These were in excess of 370Kg NM of hazard type 3 and 4 fireworks. The total seized was 464 Kg NM of fireworks.

The fireworks located in the garage were stored in such a dangerous manner that they were immediately seized to ensure public safety. They were also stored with a large amount of combustible items and other hazardous items including propane cylinders, a quantity of petrol and live unsecured electrical wires.

If there had been a fire or even a spark, the consequences of storing the fireworks with these other items could have led to the severe destruction of property and the possibility of serious injury or death to persons in the vicinity.

TWFRS, Assistant Chief Officer, Alan Robson commented:

“This activity presented a major risk to the public. Not only were fireworks being stored at a level far greater than the licence permitted, but one of the premises didn’t even hold a licence to store fireworks. In addition, fireworks were being offered for sale outside the legal period of 15th October to 10th November. These factors, combined with the dangerous storage conditions within the Newcastle premises, could have led to a major incident that would have devastated the lives, property and homes of those nearby.”

The quantity of fireworks was so great that it required numerous journeys to transport the fireworks to a secured safe store.

Sergeant Pinner Rana, of the Newcastle North Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT), said: "We want to make sure people enjoy fireworks in a safe way and do not put themselves in danger.

"That is why we will be enforcing the law in relation to fireworks sales over the coming weeks to make sure children can't buy them.  We will also be taking action against anyone suspected of selling fireworks on the street or from their homes as an explosive licence is required to store them. Storing fireworks in your home to sell is illegal without a licence and we monitor social media to identify and track the illegal sale and storage of fireworks. Work is going on in partnership with TWFRS to seize fireworks from those who do not have a valid licence or violate the terms of their licence. If you have any information about illegal sales or storage please contact us by calling 101." 

In addition, following a call to TWFRS by Sunderland City Council, the Service was alerted to an additional premises in Washington that was selling fireworks without a licence. TWFRS Fire Safety Inspectors visited the premises and seized 75kg NM of HT3 and HT4 fireworks. Some of the fireworks were marked BS7114 (British standard). However, since July 2017it has been illegal to sell any fireworks that do not carry the CE (European Conformity) mark, rather than the old BS mark. The fireworks were seized and removed to a safe environment.

 

The illegal storage of these fireworks is being investigated by TWFRS Fire Safety Inspectors and steps are being taken to revoke the licence of the person involved in the dangerous storage. 

Alan concluded:

“Anyone wishing to sell fireworks should immediately get in touch with TWFRS via our website www.twfire.gov.uk, we will arrange an inspection of your premises and provide advice to ensure that the premises are safe to store fireworks. Otherwise we will not hesitate to seize and prosecute where necessary if unsafe storage is found and the public are put at risk.”

Anyone convicted of storing fireworks without a licence, or not storing them safely, could face an unlimited fine and/or be imprisoned for up to 2 years.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Northumbria Police advise the public to attend organised firework displays rather than hold their own – details of which are on the website. If the public are buying their own fireworks they should check that they are buying from a reputable supplier who holds a licence.

To report an unlicensed shop please contact Fire Safety Inspectors for Newcastle and North Tyneside on 0191444 1002/1004 and South Tyneside, Gateshead and Sunderland on 0191 444 1249/1264

TWFRS has recently launched its 2017 Bonfire campaign, in collaboration with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner; Northumbria Police and Northumberland FRS, which highlights the dangers of firework misuse: http://www.twfire.gov.uk/community-safety/prevention/campaigns/bonfire-2017/. It also features the Ryan’s Regret campaign which documents the terrible life-altering consequences of misusing fireworks.