LFRS warns of the dangers of fireworks

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Emergency services in Lancashire are sharing footage from last year’s Bonfire night to crack down on anti-social behaviour and criminality and educate young people across the division on the consequences of their actions ahead of this year’s events.

Last year hoax calls were made to the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) claiming people were lying hurt in the road with catastrophic injuries – all of which was untrue – taking critical medical attention away from someone genuinely in need. Upon arrival, ambulance and fire engines and police vehicles were targeted with fireworks. In total, three emergency vehicles were removed from the road – including an ambulance which could then no longer attend life threatening calls across the region. Many emergency workers were put at serious risk.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Lancashire Constabulary have teamed up to visit schools and other establishments across East Lancashire to warn them of the potentially deadly impact of mishandling fireworks, and the impact it has on the emergency services across the county, should they partake in this sort of activity.

Emergency services have been visiting the children – aged 11+ – across the region and showing them a video of last year’s events, and the devastating consequences of such behaviour – including being upfront and honest about where it could land them with the law. The children then talk with officers about the effect in breakout seminars so they fully understand the impact it has on residents.

Lancashire Constabulary’s Superintendent Andrea Barrow, Operations Manager for Blackburn with Darwen and Hyndburn, said: “This sort of behaviour is completely unacceptable and it will not be tolerated. Although residents will see a number of disturbing images in the video, we want to reassure you that we have taken appropriate action and those involved have been arrested and dealt with. Last year, we identified and arrested several offenders and took the appropriate action, bringing them into custody, interviewing them and deciding appropriate outcomes with partner agencies such as the Youth Offending Team.

“Five were arrested for the disorder on Lambeth Street, with four being charged with public order offences. Two were arrested and charged with Affray for the Robinson Street disorder and have received a six month referral order.

“To those thinking of causing issues this year, the message is clear; we will be taking prompt action on the night and we will find you, we will take action and you will appear before the court. Don’t let such action – which could have cost someone their life – dictate and limit the rest of your life.”

NWAS Operations Manager, Jason Eddings says: “This anti-social behaviour has had a lasting impact on my team members involved. Within their jobs, they dedicate themselves to attending to people who are in need at times of crisis – something they thought they were doing on this very night.

“Please think twice about taking part in unofficial and antisocial events around Bonfire Night, not only could you end up with a criminal record, but you could seriously injure those that are there for you in your time of need.”

Justin Johnston, Chief Fire Officer of Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service said:

“The bonfire night period is an extremely busy time for us in Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service in terms of both the prevention and protection work we carry out and emergency response. Together with our partners we work hard to ensure we are as best prepared as we can be to keep our communities safe and provide the best service possible for those people that need our help during this time.

Last bonfire night as a service we responded to around 140 incidents overall with 53 of those incidents attended by our multi-agency incident assessment team (MAIAT) vehicle. It is incredibly saddening and maddening that there were a number of instances where our staff and other emergency services were lured into areas for what appears to be no other reason than mal intent.

Thankfully, there were no serious injuries, but the fact remains that no one goes to work expecting to be attacked, whether verbally or physically and nor should they. When emergency services are there to help people, this mindless behaviour is incomprehensible and completely unacceptable.

This bonfire night our staff will again be ready to respond to emergencies and keep the people of Lancashire safe. I sincerely hope they can do so without seeing repeated scenes like those of last year.”