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London Fire Brigade is asking people to cancel their amateur firework displays this Friday and attend organised displays instead because of the national Fire Brigades Union strike.
The strike over government changes to pensions is planned from 6.30pm until 11pm on the Friday before Bonfire Night, just before Diwali and the strike also coincides with half term. It is likely to be one of the busiest days of the year for the fire service.
Fire chiefs want the public to help reduce the chances of fires across the capital by attending an organised display rather than setting off fireworks or lighting bonfires in gardens.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said:
“Fireworks cause serious fires each year and bonfires can quickly get out of control which is why we’re urging people to attend organised displays on Strike Friday.
“During the strike we will have a contingency fire and rescue service of 27 fire engines, crewed by temporary firefighters. Serious emergencies will be attended, but smaller incidents won’t so we are calling on the public not to put themselves at risk by lighting fireworks and bonfires.”
The 27 fire engines provide a contingency level of emergency cover across the capital during the strike, and will be sent to emergencies including fires in people’s homes, vehicle fires, road accidents and collapsed buildings.
The plans are not intended to match the Brigade’s day-to-day cover so while strike action is taking place a fire engine may not be sent to less urgent and non-life-threatening incidents. These could include rubbish fires (including fires in bins and skips), fires on open ground, animal rescues, flooding, people stuck in lifts and gas leaks.
Last Bonfire Night was the quietest on record with 126 fires attended in London, which is a fire every 12 minutes. In 2006, firefighters attended 460 fires, around one fire every three minutes. 2012was also the first time on Bonfire Night that no one was injured by a fire attended by the Brigade.
The Fire Brigades Union is also taking strike action on Monday, 4 November between 6am and 8am.
If you still go ahead with amateur Bonfire Night and Diwali celebrations the Brigade’s top three tips are:
1. Attend organised displays – they’re much safer than holding your own
2. Make sure candles they are placed on an even heat resistant surface and never there them unattended.
3. Light bonfires well away from sheds, fences, bushes and trees and make sure they’re fully out before leaving them
Local stats available on request.
Details on London displays firework displays in London can be found here:
• If you are planning on holding your own firework display you should:
• Light fireworks at arms length using a taper and stand well back.
• Never go back to fireworks once they are lit. Even if a firework hasn't gone off, it could still explode.
• Build your bonfire well clear of buildings, garden sheds, fences and hedges.
• Never use flammable liquids to start a bonfire.
• Don’t leave bonfires unattended. An adult should supervise it until it has burnt out. If it has to be left, damp it down with plenty of water.