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Warning over 'unofficial' bonfires

By Hector MacKenzie

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Ross Haggart: "Illegal bonfires needlessly take up our time and put others with genuine emergencies at risk."
Ross Haggart: "Illegal bonfires needlessly take up our time and put others with genuine emergencies at risk."

HOUSEHOLDERS putting on their own firework displays and illegal bonfires pose a serious safety risk, a leading firefighter has warned ahead of one of the service's busiest nights of the year.

And SFRS, alongside the Scottish Government, is making a final appeal to members of the public to attend an organised firework display and help curb illegal behaviour such as the construction of illegal bonfires.

Assistant Chief Officer Ross Haggart, the SFRS Director of Prevention and Protection, said: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue service can be up to four times busier than usual on November 5.

“There are many official bonfire events this year in Scotland and attending one of these can help ensure our resources are not delayed.

“Illegal bonfires needlessly take up our time and put others with genuine emergencies at risk.

“I would urge any member of the public who sees someone starting an illegal bonfire to contact Crimestoppers.

“I would also urge anyone who witnesses the construction of an unlit illegal bonfire to contact their local authority to have it removed.

“Together we can help each other stay safe this bonfire night."

ACO Haggart was joined in the call by Minister for Community Safety Ash Denham.

Ms Denham also highlighted the distress that fireworks can cause for members of the community as well as animals such as livestock and pets.

Ms Denham said: “Bonfire Night is a chance for families and local communities to come together and enjoy fireworks responsibly. However the noise from fireworks can cause distress to vulnerable members of our communities – older people, those with post-traumatic stress disorder, autism or underlying mental health issues – and to animals.

“I would encourage people to be mindful of this and to attend organised displays where fireworks are set off in a controlled and safe environment. “Bonfire Night is also one of the busiest nights of the year for our blue-light staff and robust action will be taken against anyone involved in the misuse of fireworks.

“I would urge members of the public to report any criminal or anti-social behaviour to Police Scotland, their local council, or through Crimestoppers.”

Crimestoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555 111 or contacted through their website at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

Related article: Firework fans asked to walk to Bught Park in Inverness for Highland Council event

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