Cancelled fireworks displays lead to busy bonfire night for fire crews
Tyne and Wear firefighters were extremely busy on bonfire night after the region’s usual organised displays were cancelled due to Covid-19.
On bonfire night itself, the control room dealt with more than 450 calls – an increase of 24% from last year. The number of incidents crews attended between 1-6 November also increased from the same period last year, from 424 to 452.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther said: “I’d like to thank the vast majority of people who celebrated bonfire night safely and in line with the current Covid-19 restrictions.
The bonfire period is always a very busy time for us and this year we had the added challenge of cancelled organised displays – which are by far the safest way to enjoy fireworks. Our community safety teams worked extremely hard to ensure that people understood the risks of bonfires and fireworks and how to enjoy them responsibly.
Thank you to our firefighters, control room and community safety teams for the parts you have played in keeping Tyne and Wear residents safe.”
However, not everyone heeded the warnings as crews in some areas were attacked with fireworks and other missiles.
CFO Lowther commented: “Firefighter attacks are never acceptable, but at a time when we all need to pull together and support our emergency services, it’s absolutely disgraceful. Under the current circumstances, people should not be gathering in large groups – let alone setting fires then abusing or attacking our crews, who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe.
Thankfully no one was hurt on this occasion, but I’d like to reiterate that all of our officers are equipped with body worn cameras and our vehicles have CCTV cameras. We will not hesitate to use this footage to support prosecution of anyone who attacks us.”
Anyone who has information on firefighter attacks is urged to contact FireStoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 169 5558 or at www.firestoppersreport.co.uk.
TWFRS also worked closely with Northumbria Police and Trading Standards to identify and prevent the illegal sale of fireworks. This involved visiting commercial premises to ensure that the explosives were being stored in line with the terms of their licence, as well as investigating reports of unlicensed sellers. As a result, more than 277kg of explosives were seized from 9 addresses, both commercial and domestic.