Increasing number of Bonfire Night incidents go unreported says fire service

Calls are down but incidents are up this bonfire night according to figures from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.

Monday, 7th November 2016, 2:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:02 pm
Crowds line Roker's Cliffe Park to watch the firework display marking the end of Sunderland's Illuminations.

The latest statistics show the number of calls received by the control room on November 5, was the lowest for 17 years.

A total of 290 calls were received, which is almost four times the daily average of 83.

However, bonfire night remains one of the busiest of the year for the service, and this year saw a small increase in the number of incidents actually attended by firefighters, with 170 on 5 November 2016 compared to 162 in 2015.

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This is more than four times the daily average of 39 throughout the year.

The weekend also saw nine attacks on firefighters - compared to four in 2015.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther said: “It is totally unacceptable that firefighters were subject to verbal and physical abuse whilst they were carrying out their duties over the weekend. In one particular incident, youths also attempted to interfere with the hose reel while firefighters were working to extinguish rubbish on fire. This is extremely dangerous.

“Thankfully, no one was injured. However, our firefighters should not have to tolerate abuse whilst they are working to protect our local communities on any night of the year. These attacks not only hinder our firefighters from fulfilling their duties, but also risk putting emergency equipment out of action, which could be needed to save lives at any time.

“We are working with Northumbria Police to resolve these issues, including reviewing CCTV footage from the cameras which are fitted on all our fire appliances.”

Incidents attended by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service this year included a jetty and surrounding undergrowth on fire at a park in Newcastle, a brick shed housing several wheelie bins in Elswick and child's swing at a playground in Throckley. In each of these incidents, the fires are suspected to have been started deliberately and resulted in substantial damage.

Stray fireworks can also be responsible for causing fires, risking lives and property.

This year, this included a garden fence in Newcastle which sustained severe fire damage. In a separate incident, a garden shed and its contents were destroyed by a fire resulting from a stray firework in Walkerville.

Mr Lowther added: “Our provisional figures show the positive impact our partnership work is having in encouraging local people to enjoy bonfire night safely. However, these figures show that the weekend was still a difficult and risky time, resulting in damage to property and risk to life. “I’d like to thank our staff for their hard work and professionalism throughout the weekend and in the run up this week. I’d also like to thank our partner agencies and local schools across Tyne and Wear for their support in communicating important safety advice, which has helped our local communities to remain as safe as possible.”

· The number of fires started in wheelie bins increased to 17, compared to 14 in 2015.

· However, the number of incidents resulting from antisocial behaviour was 68, compared to 75 in 2015.

· Two primary fires (involving property) were caused by fireworks – also two in 2015.