South Yorkshire’s police and fire services are urging people to be fire safe and 999 wise around Halloween and Bonfire Night this autumn.
This comes after the county’s firefighters saw an increase in call outs on Bonfire Night last year, compared to previous ‘Dark Night’ periods.
Crews were called to 96 incidents on Friday 5 November last year, compared to 80 on the same date in 2020 – an increase of 20 percent.
Many of these call outs involved bonfires that had grown out of control, and trees that had been set on fire by stray fireworks. Others involved cars and wheelie bins being set alight.
“We never aim to ruin anyone’s fun.”
“We always want people to enjoy Bonfire Night, and we never aim to ruin anyone’s fun, but it’s really important people are careful out there,” said Area Manager Matt Gillatt, head of the joint police and fire community safety department.
“This year we’re specifically asking people to stay with their bonfires, as leaving them unattended tends to end badly. We’re also asking people to ensure they are sensible in how they position their fireworks, so they are away from bushes and trees.
“Finally, we’d like to ask that people bring their bins in from off the street, and let us have any information on deliberate fire-setting that they may have.
“These details can be shared with us anonymously via our FireStoppers service – people just need to call 0800 169 5558 or visit firestoppersreport.co.uk.”
Since the start of October, police and fire staff have been doing joint patrols and visits to local schools and community centres, offering advice around Halloween and bonfire safety.
Meanwhile senior officers from South Yorkshire Police are also assuring local residents that they will be taking a no-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour this year.
“We are here for you if you need us.”
The force lead for what is known collectively as Operation Dark Nights, Chief Inspector Lee Carlson, said: “We want everybody to enjoy Halloween and Bonfire night; we know it can be an enjoyable time of the year for most people, but for some the festivities alongside the darker nights can make them feel vulnerable.
“We want you to know that whilst the majority of people will enjoy the period without any issues, the few people that do want to cause a problem will not be tolerated and our extra officers will be there to deal with them.
“Our Neighbourhood officers have already been in schools talking to young people about antisocial behaviour and the effect it can have on people living near them, as well as giving them guidance around keeping safe during dark nights.
“We hope you will all enjoy Halloween and Bonfire night and respect everybody around you. We will have officers out conducting extra patrols and we are here for you if you need us.”
The force is asking people to check who the right service is to contact about anti-social behaviour issues. Often things such as noise pollution are dealt with by local councils.
Anybody that needs the police or fire service in an emergency is still encouraged to call 999, and the police can be contacted on 101 around non-urgent issues.