FIREWORK fans are being urged to stay safe as Bonfire Night approaches.
The emergency services are once again expected to have one of their busiest nights of the year on Monday, with firework and bonfire extravaganzas taking place across Sunderland and East Durham in the coming days.
A number of displays are scheduled, starting at the end of this week, with thousands expected to turn out to be entertained with stunning pyrotechnics and blazes.
Police in Sunderland are advising families to visit organised displays in order to keep themselves safe.
Officers are teaming up with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to visit retailers in the area to remind them of their responsibilities.
It is illegal for under 18s to buy or have fireworks and for them to then set them off in a public place. Fireworks cannot be set off between 11pm and 7am or between midnight and 7am on Bonfire Night. Sparklers and fireworks can only be bought from registered sellers for private use between October 15 and November 10; December 26 and 31 as well as three days before Diwali and Chinese New Year.
Assistant Chief Constable of Northumbria Police Greg Vant said: “Safety of the public is a priority for us and we want to remind people to attend an organised display rather than having your own bonfire. Fireworks are dangerous and the law rightly protects under 18s from buying them. If anyone has information about illegal fireworks sales to children they are asked to report it to the police, so we can take action.”
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service is appealing to young people to avoid serious injury or even death from playing with fireworks and lighting bonfires during the half-term holidays.
Its leaders, along with their counterparts from County Durham, are urging people to attend local organised firework displays so that everyone can enjoy a safe and fun-filled night.
Group manager Sean McKee said: “Evidence shows that young people are the most likely to be injured in incidents involving fireworks and bonfires. We want to get the message across that fireworks and bonfires can be extremely dangerous and can have devastating consequences on not just those directly injured, but their families also.
“We want everyone to have fun without causing harm to themselves or others.
“We are advising people to attend a professional organised display to make sure they have a safe and enjoyable Bonfire Night experience.”
The service has appealed to anyone who spots any illegal bonfires being built to report them to the council so they can be removed.
If the bonfire has been lit, people are urged to call 999. Residents are also being reminded wheelie bins are often targeted by arsonists at this time of year and asked to so keep them out of sight.
For the first time in 36 years, there will be no display at Durham Police Headquarters in Aykley Heads. Durham Constabulary is instead holding the bash at Beamish Museum, near Stanley.
Bryan Russell, executive manager of the Durham Agency Against Crime, said: “The bonfire show is always a terrific night out and great fun for all the family.
“We are really excited about the new location and we would like to thank Beamish Museum for hosting the event. We would also like to express to the public that there will be no event or activity at Aykley Heads on bonfire night this year so do not make unnecessary journeys to the site.”