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Scotland’s fire chief warns of ‘life-changing consequences’ of misusing fireworks on Bonfire Night

Stonehaven's bonfire and fireworks in 2019. Picture by Chris Sumner

Record numbers of people considering private displays to celebrate Bonfire Night has prompted a safety warning from Scotland’s top fire officer.

Chief fire officer Martin Blunden said people must consider the “life-changing consequences” of misusing fireworks ahead of what is expected to be a very busy night for the service.

Traditional Bonfire Night celebrations have been called off across the north and north-east of Scotland because of the restrictions put in place as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Blunden said the service understood that the cancellation of these major displays meant that more people will be considering putting one on in their own garden.

He said: “This year’s Bonfire Night is going to feel very different and at this usual time for celebration I’m asking you to take greater care than you ordinarily might have done so.

Chief fire officer Martin Blunden warns about the dangers of private firework displays during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is already a busy time for the emergency services. It’s very important that we do everything we can to reduce the strain on these services to make sure we’re available for other incidents as they occur.

“The consequences of accidents involving fireworks are life-changing and it’s often in the private displays that we see these things happening.”

The fire service attended 760 incidents in a 24-hour period around November 5 last year.

A total of 540 of these were between 5pm and midnight and around 90% of them were deliberately started fires.

Mr Blunden outlined a series of rules to follow for those planning their own display.

Only buying fireworks with a CE safety mark on them from a recognised retailer, keeping them in a metal box and only taking them out one at a time were among those he listed.

He also called sparklers “one of the most dangerous things you can give to a small person” as he highlighted that they can burn between 10 and 20 times hotter than boiling water.

Mr Blunden added: “If you’re thinking of a private display, please be kind and think of those with sensory impairments or neurological differences such as autism.

“Think about older people and those with pets. The people who might be affected by your display.

“I recognise that these rules are a lot to consider just to have fun during what has been a very difficult time for us all.

“Please be kind, smart and safe as we celebrate this year’s Bonfire Night.”

Coronavirus in Scotland – track the spread in these charts and maps

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reported that a further 50 deaths from coronavirus and 1,433 cases have been recorded in Scotland in the past 24 hours.

The figures are lower than the 4,649 deaths given earlier by the National Records of Scotland as they do not include suspected and probable coronavirus infections.

The daily test positivity rate is 7.9%, down from 10.3% on the previous day.

There are 1,257 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, up by three in 24 hours.

Of these patients, 94 are in intensive care, up by two.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking at the Covid-19 committee.

Earlier today, Ms Sturgeon appeared at Holyrood’s Covid-19 committee and said she was considering legally enforcing travel restrictions in Scotland.

The first minister said reducing travel plays an important role in preventing coronavirus spreading to areas of low prevalence.

She said: “Clearly, we have travel restrictions in place.

“In terms of guidance, we are actively considering whether we give a legal underpinning in future weeks to these travel restrictions and I’ll probably say more about that at the review point next week.”

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