Communities in Renfrewshire are being asked to stay safe and stay home as Bonfire Night approaches.
Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, there will not be any organised displays in Renfrewshire and local people are being asked not to create their own bonfires or let off fireworks to ensure the safety of others.
The current Scottish Government restrictions in Renfrewshire mean that groups of people should not be meeting outdoors so communities are asked not to hold displays which would encourage others to attend.
Renfrewshire Council are working closely with Scottish Fire and Rescue and Police Scotland to ensure that local communities remain safe on Bonfire Night and will have additional warden and police patrols in the lead up and on the night, regular checks on local fireworks sellers, and will remove potential bonfire material in advance.
Councillor Marie McGurk, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board, said: “While it’s disappointing that we cannot hold our annual fireworks display, we must respect the times we are in and I would ask our local communities not to hold their own displays.
“It’s important that we do all we can to suppress the virus and groups of people should not be meeting up at this time.
“We must also consider the safety of anyone creating their own bonfire or setting off fireworks as this should only be carried out by trained professionals, so please avoid personal displays.
“This is often the busiest night of the year for our Fire Service so let’s work together to protect them, reduce the need to attend unnecessary calls and allow them to focus on saving lives where they are required.”
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have provided virtual presentations to local schools on the dangers of fireworks and will provide an enhanced response on Bonfire Night to tackle any out of control fires.
Firefighters attended more than 2300 deliberate fires during the four-week period leading to Bonfire Night 2019 and on 5 November last year, Operations Control received 882 calls from members of the public and crews responded to more than 350 bonfires within an eight-hour period – with six recorded attacks on firefighters.
Deputy Assistant Chief Officer (DACO) Alasdair Perry, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Head of Prevention and Protection, said: “First and foremost we would urge all of our communities to follow advice and guidelines around social distancing to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“We know this means that people may consider hosting their own events this year, but we would urge caution around doing so because every year people are injured by fireworks and admitted to hospital – and children are particularly at risk.”
“This is already a traditionally busy period of the year for ourselves and our partners, and it is very important that we maintain an ability to respond to other emergencies.
“We are therefore strongly encouraging anyone who does wish to host a private event to reduce the risk by ensuring to familiarise themselves with our firework code and fire safety guidance. Do not take risks because the consequences can be devastating.”
Police Scotland will provide additional officers in Renfrewshire to support the Wardens and Fire Service and will attend any illegal bonfires or fireworks incidents in the local area.
Chief Superintendent Alan Murray, divisional commander for Renfrewshire and Inverclyde, sad: “We are committed to preserving public safety regardless of the anticipated reduction in people travelling to and attending organised events this year.
“Policing alone cannot tackle bonfire related disorder and this is why, every year, we work in close collaboration with our emergency services partners to highlight and mitigate the risks associated with reckless behaviour around fireworks. Any behaviour which puts our communities at risk, or endangers the safety of our officers and other emergency service personnel, will not be tolerated.
“Parents and guardians of young people also have a vital role to play and I would ask you to have very frank conversations with those in your care about the risks of getting involved in violence and disorder.
“The Chief Constable has made it clear that we are asking people to take personal responsibility to do the right thing to aid the collective effort to stay safe, protect others and save lives by preventing the virus from spreading.”
For more information on fireworks and bonfire safety, visit: www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety.