A joint effort to reduce deliberate fires and anti-social behaviour during the bonfire period is being kicked off today, Monday 22 October, by two of South Yorkshire’s emergency services.
South Yorkshire Police (SYP) and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) have once again joined forces for their annual ‘Operation Dark Nights’ initiative – with children and their parents the main focus of this year’s efforts.
As part of the operation, staff from both organisations will be visiting schools across South Yorkshire to educate youngsters around firework safety, stop drop and roll techniques and resisting peer pressure – as well as the legal and physical consequences of arson and anti-social behaviour.
Parents are also being asked to play their part, too, and ensure they know what their children are getting up to during the bonfire period.
“Our firefighters often report seeing youngsters fleeing the scene of fires around this time of year and, whilst we’re not suggesting all kids are at fault, we know that young people often think they are invincible and that setting fires is just a bit of fun,” said SYFR Group Manager Simon Dunker, deputy head of the joint police and fire community safety team.
“The reality is though that playing with fire can have serious consequences that will stay with them forever. That’s why it is for us as parents, relatives, teachers, coaches, firefighters and police officers to educate them around the consequences of deliberate fire setting and other anti-social behaviour.
“Our ask if that you talk to your youngsters – find out what they’re up to on bonfire night and as the nights get earlier, and make sure they know that playing with fire is no joke. The consequences are far reaching and could stay with them forever.”
Advice will also be given throughout the operation around bonfire and firework safety – with out of control bonfires in particular prompting a number of calls to SYFR this time last year.
Those who are considering hosting firework displays will be urged to instead consider attending a more spectacular organised event, whilst anybody planning a garden bonfire is strongly advised to keep it away from bushes, trees, sheds and fences.
South Yorkshire Police’s lead for antisocial behaviour, Superintendent Colin McFarlane, said: “Bonfire Night and Halloween are events celebrated by all ages and whilst we want them to be enjoyed by all, it is important that members of the public act both safely and responsibly.
“Our priority remains keeping everyone safe and we will be working with our colleagues from South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, to educate everyone around the dangers of firework misuse and how issues or concerns around Bonfire Night, Halloween and ‘mischief night’, can be reported.
“There are lots of safety precautions everyone can take to prevent Halloween and Bonfire night from being remembered for all of the wrong reasons. For example, please make sure that you do not leave rubbish or old furniture lying around – instead, store it securely behind a locked gate or away from your home.
“You can also ensure your wheelie bin is off the street after collection day and is secure within the boundary of your property. This will help to prevent these items from being used for small fires, which could spread quickly and put the lives of those you love most at risk.
“I hope everyone, whatever their plans are for the celebrations, are thoroughly and safely enjoyed and I would urge anyone with concerns about firework misuse to report it via 101, or 999 in an emergency.”
Don’t want trick or treaters this Halloween? You can download a poster, which can be printed and displayed in your window, below.
Specific ‘Operation Dark Nights’ Advice:
- Speak to your kids and find out what they’re upto – remind them of the damage that fire-setting can do.
- Bring your wheelie bins straight in after collection, and don’t leave them out overnight. These are often the target of arson.
- Businesses – don’t leave your rubbish and waste lying around as this too can be a target.
- If you don’t want trick or treaters – display the above poster.
- Where possible go to organised firework and bonfire displays, they’re bigger, better and safer.
- If you are having a bonfire, make sure it is away from trees, bushes, sheds and fences.