November the 5th is nearly upon us and like the Diwali and Chinese New Year celebrations, fireworks often play a big part. Fireworks although exciting are obviously explosives and burn at high temperatures, so they need careful handling and storage. Bonfires also need careful management and should never be used for the disposal of fly tipping materials.
We asked Shropshire Fire and Rescue to remind us of bonfire and firework safety. This is their advice:-
Bonfire Safety Tips
- Warn your neighbours beforehand – so they are aware and can make necessary preparations
- Only burn dry material, do not burn anything which is wet or damp, this causes more smoke
- Check there are no cables (telephone wires etc) above the bonfire
- Build the bonfire away from sheds, fences and trees. (It is recommended that bonfires are at least 18m away from buildings)
- Don’t use petrol or paraffin to start the fire it can get out of control quickly
Once the bonfire is lit, make sure you:
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby – in case of emergencies
- Don’t leave the bonfire unattended
- Keep children and pets away from the bonfire
- Don’t throw any fireworks into the fire
- Don’t burn aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint – this could produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode, causing injury
Once the bonfire has died down, spray the embers with water to stop it reigniting
- Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114
- Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks
- Keep fireworks in a closed box
- Follow the instructions on each firework
- Light them at arm’s length, using a taper
- Stand well back
- Never go near a firework that has been lit
- Even if it hasn’t gone off, it could still explode
- Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them
- Always supervise children around fireworks
- Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
- Never give sparklers to a child under five
- Keep pets indoors
- Don’t let off fireworks after 11pm
Fireworks and the law
It is against the law to set off or throw fireworks in the street or other public place and set off fireworks between 11.00 pm and 7.00 am – except during certain celebrations. If found guilty by the courts, you could be fined up to £5,000 and can be imprisoned for up to three months. You may be liable for an on-the-spot fine of £80. It is against the law to cause any unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animal. The penalty if found guilty is either imprisonment of up to 51 weeks and or a fine of up to £20,000.
Your community might hold an un-official communal bonfire, which if run in an appropriate manner can provide an opportunity for families, friends and neighbours to enjoy a social event together, whilst Shropshire Fire and Rescue do not condone these and they ask that any group or individual planning a bonfire contacts Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Fire Control on 01743 260290. Unauthorised bonfires may be treated as fly-tipping and can result in prosecution. The controlled burning of easily combustible material, such as wood, cardboard and dried garden waste can be done without presenting unacceptable risk. The burning of plastics, tyres, oil, pressurised containers and other hazardous material is not acceptable. If householders are seen depositing this type of hazardous material at bonfire locations, then they are technically fly-tipping and enforcement action could result.
It’s important to remember the majority of accidents happen at private parties. Organised displays, which whist still are not officially endorsed by Shropshire Fire and Rescue, will be safer than having a party of your own or attending a communal event as described above.