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Stay safe and enjoy November 5 21 October 2008

Fireworks safety campaign 2008AS the countdown continues towards November 5, the emphasis is on enjoying fireworks and bonfire night parties in a safe and responsible way.

Key messages are being reinforced by firefighters, police officers and staff from the Office of Fair Trading who have once again joined forces to promote a Fireworks Safety Campaign. The initial phase of the joint initiative has focussed on checks at local outlets to make sure they comply with safety regulations regarding the storage and sale of fireworks.

Further inspections will be carried out to ensure licence conditions are being met and to highlight retailers’ responsibilities under the law not to sell fireworks to under 18s. Island schools and the Department of Education Youth Service are supporting the campaign by displaying posters and leaflets and inviting firefighters and police officers to assemblies to speak about the dangers of fireworks.

Department of Home Affairs political member George Waft MLC said:

‘The launch of the joint Fireworks Safety Campaign is the result of months of planning and co-operation between various DHA divisions and OFT. The main aim is to target the groups most at risk of injury in the coming weeks and to encourage people to stay safe. We don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, but we do want to highlight the potential dangers of bonfires and fireworks.’

OFT Chairman Bill Henderson MHK added:

‘The Office of Fair Trading has worked successfully with the Police and Fire Service for a number of years to ensure that problems with fireworks are kept to a minimum. OFT staff take their licensing responsibilities very seriously and are pleased to acknowledge the support of the other agencies. I hope that this year’s Fireworks Safety Campaign helps to ensure another safe bonfire night for all Island residents.’

Meanwhile, police and community fire safety officers will again be carrying out patrols aimed at reducing anti-social behaviour caused by the misuse of fireworks. Inspector Helen Mason, the officer in charge of the Eastern Neighbourhood Policing Team, said:

‘While the vast majority of people act in a very responsible way, there is always a minority that cause problems. We will be taking a pro-active approach in terms of community policing and officers on patrol will confiscate fireworks or take further action if deemed necessary.’

Particular attention will be focussed on the coastline around Marine Drive and Port Soderick as those areas have experienced problems in previous years. Fireworks launched out to sea have occasionally blown back on the wind and set fire to gorse, while coastguards and staff from the Harbours Division have also voiced concern about the potential for confusion among seafarers.

Chief Coastguard Colin Finney said:

‘Setting off fireworks around the coast can be a serious problem as a distress flares could be mistaken for a stray firework and vice-versa. Consequently we would urge people to act responsibly and not cause confusion that could expose others to danger.’

Safety advice on holding bonfire night parties and using fireworks is available from the DHA or OFT on the following websites: www.gov.im/dha/ceo/fireworks.xml and www.gov.im/oft/TradingStandards/safety/fireworks.xml

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