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London Fire Brigade urges caution for Bonfire Night


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London Fire Brigade has asked people to take extra care this Bonfire Night over firefighter concerns that home fireworks displays could cause a spate of fires.

The call comes as emergency calls to the Brigade’s 999 Control Room in November last year reached a five-year high and as many organised fireworks displays have been cancelled.

During last year’s bonfire period (1-6 November 2021), Control Officers took around 2,170 emergency calls. More than 20 per cent of these occurred on Bonfire Night alone, which was the highest number of calls the Brigade has seen on 5 November since 2016.

Concerns that firefighters could see a bumper bonfire weekend due to DIY displays were heightened after crews were called to a fire in Southall caused by a firework just last week. Around 25 firefighters tackled the blaze which destroyed a garage, damaged cars and resulted in a man being treated for injuries.

The Brigade has been preparing for one of their busiest nights of the year by hosting several community events targeted towards promoting firework safety, but last year’s spike in calls has now prompted them to go one step further and appeal to the public to think twice before holding fireworks displays at home.

Organised displays are much safer and controlled, reducing the risk of people being injured at home or causing fires which spread out of control. Those who are unable to find a professional display near them are being asked to familiarise themselves with the Brigade’s advice and celebrate safely.

The Brigade is also urging Londoners to avoid building bonfires in gardens and to check their local authority’s guidance on bonfires. Those who choose to build a bonfire despite the warning are advised to build them far away from buildings, garden sheds, fences and hedges and never leave them unattended.

Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Charlie Pugsley, said: “The period around Bonfire Night has traditionally been very busy for our firefighters and Control Officers, but last year calls to our Control Room reached a five-year high, which is really concerning to see. We are ready, willing and able to respond to incidents so please don’t hesitate to call us in an emergency, but we are asking Londoners to help by considering alternative ways to celebrate safely.

“Our advice has always been that it’s safer to attend professional displays rather than using fireworks at home. Often going to an organised display can be cheaper than buying fireworks to use yourself and there are still lots of displays taking place across the capital.

“However, we know with some local events cancelled this year, there will be people considering putting on DIY displays. If you are holding your own it’s important to ensure you are buying safe fireworks. Only buy fireworks from a reputable, licensed seller and make sure they have a CE safety mark. If you’re drinking alcohol, don’t set off fireworks and never return to a firework once it’s been lit. Finally, always keep children safe and supervised – sparklers in particular can quickly cause serious burns even if they appear to be extinguished.”

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