West Lothian Community Safety partners issue safety messages ahead of bonfire night
The West Lothian Community Safety Partnership has shared a series of key messages highlighting the potential dangers of bonfire and firework related incidents in the build up to bonfire night.
The West Lothian Community Safety Partnership is made up of public organisations such as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), Police Scotland and West Lothian Council.
Together, with the support and assistance from voluntary organisations and members of the public, they are promoting safety and responsibility this bonfire period and reminding West Lothian communities what they should do should they encounter any suspicious activity.
The SFRS has issued a stark reminder that bonfires and the private use of fireworks can cause devastating injuries. They pose a threat to spectators and can also cause distress.
LSO David Sharp is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's Area Commander for Falkirk and West Lothian.
He said: "For the second year running Bonfire Night will be significantly different to previous years as some large-scale public events are being cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.
"The Service is well resourced and prepared for this annual period of celebrations that includes Halloween, Diwali and Bonfire Night, as well as this year COP26, and we have robust measures in place to ensure we can continue to respond to emergencies.
"There is no doubt that we welcome the continuing support of our communities in West Lothian - by following all available safety guidance from ourselves and our partners, they can help reduce the risk of harm wherever possible.
"What we're asking this year is for people to consider the risks of hosting their own event involving either fire or fireworks. Every year people are injured by bonfires and fireworks and admitted to hospital - and children are particularly at risk.
"We are therefore strongly encouraging anyone who is considering having a private event to think again.
"Those who choose to do so should familiarise themselves with the fireworks code and fire safety guidance. Do not take risks because the consequences can be devastating."
Sergeant Iain Wells from the West Lothian Community Policing Team said: “We have been working with our partners and local community groups over the past couple of years developing a much more proactive approach to reduce anti-social behaviour.
"This worked particularly well last year when partners from Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, West Lothian Council, other organisations and local people worked alongside Police and other services in the lead up to November 5.
"Dedicated teams of local officers will be on duty in the lead up to, and including Bonfire Night and will be engaging with members of our communities to deter them from becoming involved in criminal activity.
"In addition, joint patrols with council colleagues will be undertaken to carry out environmental audits and remove any illegal bonfires or other items, which may be used for non-sanctioned bonfires.
"Our local resources will also be supported by specialist officers from Operation Moonbeam and these departments can be called upon at short notice should they be required.
"All reports of dangerous and anti-social behaviour involving fireworks will be thoroughly investigated over the Bonfire Night period.
"We would like everyone to enjoy this period and not let a few selfish individuals spoil it for everyone. Please contact 101 with any concerns and information to ensure a safe night for everyone."
Executive councillor for services for the community, George Paul commented: “While we want everyone to be able to enjoy themselves this bonfire night, the importance of taking appropriate steps to keep yourself and others safe cannot be understated.
“I would urge everyone to follow guidance from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and heed the advice of community safety partners such as Police Scotland. Doing so will not only help ensure your own personal safety if you plan to attend or host an official event but will also show consideration for others.
“If you do come across any issues in the build up to bonfire night or on the night itself then please get in touch with the relevant agencies to report your concerns. Doing so will help us all enjoy bonfire night which will be closer to normality.”
For more on how to stay safe this Bonfire Night visit https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/fireworks-safety.aspx.
The Fireworks Code can be found at https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/media/2387082/sfrs_bonfires_v3.5_ah_digital.pdf
If you encounter an unregistered bonfire that is already alight call 999. Illegal or any other suspicious activity can be reported by calling 101 or alternatively contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
To reduce the risk of unnecessary bin fires, residents are asked where possible to put their bins out as late as they can and bring them in as soon as they’ve been emptied.
For any concerns regarding the potential illegal sale of fireworks contact West Lothian Council’s Trading Standards service. If you suspect an illegal bonfire may be under construction, call the council on 01506 280000.