Take Care on Bonfire Night.

This is always the busiest time of the year for the emergency services in Scotland which typically witnesses a spike in anti-social behaviour. 

Incidents of deliberate fire raising are very low in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

  • 2018: 1
  • 2019: 2
  • 2020: 3
  • 2021: 0
  • 2022: 2

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) figures show that since 2018, the number of deliberate fires in the three weeks prior to 5 November in Scotland as a whole, has fallen from 1,302 to 907 – a reduction of 35%. 

These incidents are largely made up of outdoor incidents impacting refuse and woodland but also involved hundreds of building and vehicle fires. 

Deputy Assistant Chief Officer (DACO) Iain Macleod, SFRS Head of Prevention and Protection, welcomes this reduction as a clear impact of sustained prevention efforts such as school visits.  He said:

“We do so much more than simply responding to fires and prevention is always a key pillar of our work.  

“Every year at this time of year our crews are mobilised to deal with deliberately set bonfires and to help people injured by the careless use of fireworks – particularly children and young people.  

“But we always want to prevent fires, accidents or injuries from occurring in the first place. 

“In the build-up to the Bonfire Night period, we work tirelessly to engage directly with schools and community groups to educate our young people on the dangers of deliberate fire-setting, bonfires and fireworks.  

“Clearly we welcome any fall in this type of activity as this reduces the risk to the wider community and the impact this type of behaviour can have on our firefighters.” 

  • Of the 16 patients aged 10 and under, 11 of these injuries were caused by sparklers.
  • 8 of the 9 patients aged between 0 and 4 years old, had injuries caused by sparklers. Care of Burns in Scotland Report

David McGill, Lead Clinician for the Care of Burns in Scotland (COBIS) network and Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Scotland’s Burn Hub added:

“Unfortunately we see a rise in burn injuries around Bonfire Night, in both adults and children. We carry out an annual audit of firework injuries across Scotland, and last year there were 41 injuries recorded over the four-week period around Guy Fawkes night. 

“The majority of these occurred at private properties. Injuries reported ranged from minor, such as burns to the fingers, to severe including loss of fingers and complex eye injuries with loss of vision.  

“Children are frequently burned with sparklers. There’s a misunderstanding of how hot they can get. They can cause severe burns to fingers and hands, or catch clothing alight. Sparklers should never be given to children under the age of five. 

“Great care should be taken around fireworks, especially when children are near. To minimise the risks to you and your family, a publicly arranged event would be by far the safest way to view fireworks.” 

Every year, Scotland’s firefighters and community safety teams visit hundreds of primary and secondary schools to deliver safety presentations and remind pupils of the risk and dangers of bonfires and fireworks. 

Last year, SFRS visited more than 600 schools across the country and reached more than 8,000 young people between the age of 10 and 14 – and this year is no different.  

Young people are given advice about how to prevent injuries and what to do in the event of an emergency, as well as useful information about the laws around using fireworks in Scotland. 

DACO Macleod has also reminded people of the risks of hosting events at home. Research by the Care of Burns in Scotland (COBIS) reports that the majority of incidents and injuries around the Bonfire Night period occur at private properties.   He said:

“We want people to enjoy themselves however this must be done safely and responsibly. 

“Our message is clear – leave fireworks to the professionals and attend an organised event where possible. 

“If anyone is thinking about hosting a private event involving flame or fireworks, please ensure you are aware of the laws around the use of fireworks and always follow the Fireworks Code to keep everyone safe.” 

There were reductions of around 40% in both Glasgow and Edinburgh, 53% across East, North, South Ayrshire and 25% in Falkirk and West Lothian area .

Total – Deliberate Fires 
LSOArea12/10/2018 to 05/11/201811/10/2019 to 08/11/201909/10/2020 to 06/11/202008/10/2021 to 05/11/202114/10/2022 to 07/11/2022% change from 2018 to 2022
Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray4361574040-6.98%
Argyll and Bute, East Dunbartonshire and West Dunbartonshire4959924344-10.20%
City of Edinburgh175108181129103-41.14%
Dumfries and Galloway1826251413-27.78%
Dundee, Angus, Perth and Kinross687611182714.41%
East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire and South Ayrshire1421481519066-53.52%
East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde751041036248-36.00%
Falkirk and West Lothian10110213910975-25.74%
Glasgow City300382353227181-39.67%
Midlothian, East Lothian and the Scottish Borders7951483347-40.51%
Stirling, Clackmannanshire and Fife7062967551-27.14%
Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland Islands12302100.00%
Audit of firework injuries 2022

Fiona Grahame

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