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Remember, remember to stay safe this November

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is asking residents to remember remember to stay safe when planning their Bonfire Night and Diwali celebrations this year.

With many events cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 control measures in place, emergency services are preparing for a busier night than usual as celebrations are expected to take place in private gardens.

Gail Muirhead, West Hub Prevention Manager, said: “Whilst most people enjoy fireworks responsibly, in the wrong hands they can cause real misery. Remember that fireworks are explosives, and as such should be treated with respect and only used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the Firework Code.

“We want everyone to enjoy their celebrations safely and while we are currently amidst a global pandemic, we are asking people not to take risks, putting additional pressures on our emergency services.”

Superintendent Bhupinder Rai, Head of Local Policing for Thames Valley, said: “It is important to remember that fireworks are explosives and that these can be very dangerous when used irresponsibly. Last year we received more than 160 calls related to fireworks on Halloween night, the majority of which related to fireworks being used inappropriately by young people, including throwing fireworks at police officers, members of the public, vehicles and buildings. 

“The consequences of incidents like these can be incredibly serious and, as fireworks go on sale for private use this year, I want to remind the public that it is illegal for a person under 18 to possess an adult firework in a public place. This excludes sparklers, caps, cracker snaps, novelty matches, party poppers, serpents and throw downs. 

“If you have fireworks in your home, please ensure that these cannot be accessed by your children and in any case, remind them of the serious consequences that these items can have when used inappropriately.”

Please stay safe and follow the Firework Code:

  • Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable, and ensure it finishes by 11pm, except for Bonfire Night, when the cut off is midnight and Diwali, when the cut off is 1am.
  • Only buy fireworks which carry the CE mark, keep them in a closed box and use them one at a time.
  • Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary. 
  • Light the firework at arm’s length with a taper and stand well back.
  • Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks.
  • Never return to a firework once it has been lit.
  • Don’t put fireworks in pockets and never throw them.
  • Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators.
  • Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving. 

If you buy fireworks for personal use, you are only allowed to use them on your private property or property where you have the consent of the landowner.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is asking residents to be considerate to their neighbours and avoid putting additional pressure on emergency services and the NHS by having a bonfire. However, if having a bonfire, please stay safe by following the advice:

  • Build bonfires well away from buildings, fences, trees and garden structures.
  • Never burn aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint – many produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode causing injury.
  • Don’t use petrol or paraffin to get the fire going as it could quickly get out of control.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of emergencies.
  • Never leave a bonfire unattended.

We hope that residents are able to plan a firework display that is both safe and enjoyable, but remember, fireworks can be frightening for people and animals. Tell your neighbours if you are planning to let off fireworks and ensure your display is over by the cut off time.

Additionally, people often let off sky lanterns to mark these occasions, but please reconsider this because of the fire hazard and risk they pose to property, crops, livestock and the environment.

For more information on celebrating safely this Bonfire Night and Diwali, visit our Celebrating Safely page.