'Make inconsiderate use of fireworks as unacceptable as drink driving' say West Yorkshire fire chiefs

Senior West Yorkshire firefighters have backed a report calling for the 'inconsiderate and irresponsible' use of fireworks to be made as socially unacceptable as drink driving.

Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 7:14 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 7:17 pm

Dave Walton, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) Deputy Chief Fire Officer, said he fully supported the findings by a committee of MPs.

He said the report, by the Petitions Committee, was 'interesting to read' on his Twitter account, where Mr Walton is clear he is giving his personal view.

The report has called for tougher regulations to reduce the distress fireworks cause to animals, people with health conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and small children.

Fireworks have been set off illegally around Leeds (Photo: West Yorkshire Police).

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It comes as West Yorkshire Police's Leeds South team called on people to report anyone setting fireworks off or selling them illegally.

A spokesman said: "We are seeing reports of young adults with fireworks so before your son or daughter goes out tonight - make sure you know where they are going and the potential fatal consequences of playing around with fireworks

"Please do report via ringing 101."

The cross-party committee has not called for an outright ban of the selling of fireworks but the report, launched on Monday, said that without further action 'could mean a ban becomes the only option'.

Dave Walton, West Yorkshire's Deputy Chief Fire Officer.

The report was produced after around 750,000 people signed petitions to the committee calling for a crackdown on the way fireworks are sold to the public.

WYFRS Senior Fire Protection Manager Chris Kemp gave evidence to the committee on behalf of the National Fire Chiefs Council.

He specifically highlighted the number of attacks on emergency service personnel in West Yorkshire.

The inquiry also collected evidence from the RSPCA, the British Fireworks Association, the National Police Chiefs Council and from groups including people with a wide range of health conditions and disabilities and organisations that support them, military veterans and animal rights charities.

Following publication of the report Mr Kemp said: “We support the move to strengthen regulation and enforcement around the sale of fireworks and to make it simpler for retailers to adhere to the rules whilst closing some of the loopholes allowing retailers to store small quantities without a licence.

"We are working with the Government and Fire and Rescue Services to address the concerns raised.

“Fireworks are explosives and should be treated with the upmost respect and care. Anything which raises awareness with the public about the dangers of fireworks, the impact they have upon certain people and which deters youngsters from being attracted to them is a positive step and will prevent future injuries.”

Petitions Committee chairwoman Helen Jones MP said: “Our inquiry has shone a light on the troubling human impact of failing to regulate the fireworks industry effectively.

“From affecting the mental health of veterans, to harming animal welfare, and even threatening the health of young children, the consequences are widespread.

"It is not good enough for the Government to repeatedly claim that the law protects these people and animals from harm. It does not. Now is the time for action, not apathy."

She added: “While we do not support a ban on public sales and use of fireworks, further failure to act from the Government and agencies could mean that a ban becomes the only option.”