A POLICE chief is urging Bonfire Night revellers to keep up a growing tradition of staying safe.
Superintendent Glenn Gudgeon, of Hartlepool Police, said the annual festivity has become safer in recent years and is hoping that record continues.
November 5, which falls on Saturday this year, is one of the busiest nights of the year for firefighters and the police who spend hours dowsing illegal bonfires and reacting to arson attacks.
They are caused by a handful of vandals hell-bent on causing trouble, and Supt Gudgeon is hoping his officers efforts to scupper their plans pay off again and law-abiding residents do not take any risks with fireworks.
He told the Mail: “We had a very safe Bonfire Night last year and that was excellent.
“We have plans in place every year to deter people starting illegal bonfires and the fire brigade plays such a pro-active role in educating people about and enforcing fire safety.
“I look back 20 years ago to when there were people being seriously maimed and injured. Thankfully, that is now a rare occurrence.
“It is so nice to see people going out and having a safe, but enjoyable night now. There is no reason to put yourself in any form of danger.”
Fireworks and piles of wood are expected to be lit over the weekend in celebration of Guy Fawkes’ failed attempt to blow up King James I and the Houses of Parliament in 1605.
But the safest way to mark the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot is by visiting a number of official displays across east Durham and Hartlepool.
Supt Gudgeon added that those who are carrying out home displays should remember and follow the Fireworks Code.
He added: “Fireworks are not toys and should not be treated as such, they can be extremely dangerous if used incorrectly as they contain explosives that can cause serious injury.
“My message would be, have fun, but be safe and responsible when dealing with fireworks.
“We will not tolerate anyone acting irresponsible or anyone who is putting lives at risk and we are working closely with the local authority and the fire brigade to clampdown and remove illegal and dangerous bonfires.”
The Fireworks Code states:
l Follow the instructions on each firework;
l Light all fireworks at arms length;
l Stand well back;
l Never go back to a lit firework;
l Never put fireworks in your pocket;
l Never throw fireworks;
l Keep pets indoors.