‘Be Kind, Smart & Safe’: Message From Scotland’s Fire Chief

Martin Blunden, Scotland’s Chief Fire Officer, has urged the public to ‘take greater care’ this year if they are intending to have fireworks in their gardens this Bonfire Night, 5th of November.

He asked people putting on garden displays to remember the rule that only 2 households of up to 6 people can meet together outside. It was important to ‘think of others’ as the Fire Chief reminded us of the worrying figures last year when the emergency services were called out to 760 incidents over a 24 hour period with 540 incidents between 5 and midnight.

Martin Blunden also spoke of those for whom the noise of fireworks may be distressing such as those who have experienced past trauma and animals.

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Reviewing the use of fireworks in Scotland

The independent Firework Review Group, established by the Scottish Government, has called for the introduction of no firework zones and tighter restrictions on the use of fireworks to help tackle anti-social behaviour at this time of year.  

The group, chaired by former Chief Fire Officer Alasdair Hay, also recommended:

• the introduction of mandatory conditions when fireworks are purchased from retailers

• restricting the times of day fireworks can be sold and volume of fireworks that can be purchased at any one time

• restricting the days and times fireworks can be set off

• the creation of a proxy purchasing offence to prevent adults from buying fireworks on behalf of those under the age of 18

Welcoming the recommendations, SNP MSP Maree Todd said:

“Here in the Highlands & Islands, and right across Scotland, there is widespread public support to crack down on the negative impact of anti-social firework use.

“This SNP Government is determined to make these recommendations a reality and help keep our local communities safe from the harmful use of fireworks.  

“Tomorrow is Bonfire Night, and I would ask those who plan on using fireworks to do so responsibly and be mindful of their neighbours – the noise of fireworks can have a real impact on those with sensory issues, on pets and on livestock. Stay safe.”

Burning at 1,000C sparklers should not be given to any child under 5 and children must be supervised when using them

Chair of the Review Group and former Chief Fire Officer, Alasdair Hay, said:

“I am pleased to set out the recommendations from the Firework Review Group.  We have carefully considered the available evidence and believe a step change is needed in how fireworks are accessed and used by the general public.

“This is not to prevent adults using fireworks sensibly and safely – rather, to ensure all safety requirements are fully understood and adhered to, and the impact on others has been fully considered.”

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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