Monday, 9 November 2009


Warning after firework hits car. Throwing fireworks could have "serious consequences". A car was hit by a firework thrown from another car on a Jersey road, according to police. The incident happened at 2130 GMT on Tuesday on Victoria Avenue, St Helier. Officers said they had two separate calls about it, and the police had since spoken to and given "words of advice" to the driver.  Following two other incidents where lit fireworks were put through letterboxes, police in the island are warning people to use them in a responsible manner. "To distract someone while they are driving by throwing fireworks, particularly in the weather we are having at the moment, could have serious consequences," Insp Martin Buckfield, said. "Throwing a firework into someone's home could result in injury or death, though it may seem like a harmless prank. "It is of concern to us that a minority of people are choosing to use fireworks in this way." The police are urging parents to be aware about children buying fireworks and how they might use them. Insp Buckfield said: "We would urge anyone who experiences problems with fireworks being used abusively to call us. "We would reiterate that we will deal firmly with people who choose to cause distress and upset to others through their behaviour."

Having read this locally (and also see below for a catalog of recent incidents this year!!), I think it is time that fireworks were restricted - like firearms - to people with proper training. You need a licence to have a gun, but everyone over 18 can just go out and but fireworks - surely a recipe for a tragedy. It would be terrible if - as the Inspector notes - there was injury or death, and it would surely be better to be wise before, rather than after, the event.

It is not a question of a "nanny state" but of reasonable safety. Once anyone could get in a car and drive. Now we have to pass a driving test, because driving a car if not trained can be extremely dangerous. If I own a gun, I need a gun licence. And yet anyone can buy and set off these explosives!

In fact, since I began this, a tragic case in Cornwall where deaths ensured has come to light; it is the last two news items in this blog. Will we wait until something like that happens in Jersey? Or will we just be wise "after the event"? Why not "wise-up" now?

Part of the problem is that while the law can take action against indiscriminate use of fireworks, it is mostly ineffectual, because it is almost impossible to track down miscreants. They can casually pass by a house on a dark night, or set off fireworks across a road, and the culprits have long gone before the police can arrive at the scene. It is absolutely no good the police "acting firmly" if they can't catch anyone.

I think that Angela Epstein, writing in the Manchester Evening News, puts the absurdity and danger of the situation extremely well. Like her, I am not against proper organised displays; there was an extremely well policed and organised one in St Brelade's last night, with fireworks lit by professionals who take due safety precautions.

Only recently, the MEN carried the awful story of 11- year-old Prestwich schoolboy Callum Wightman who was playing near his home when some thugs deliberately launched a rocket which exploded in his face.

How could any parent not shiver with horror at the thought of an innocent child being maimed for life, simply because he had the temerity to play with his pals within the orbit of mindless rocket-toting yobs.

Do your children play outside? Do they walk to and from school? Why should they have to plough through these pyrotechnic landmines to do so? It continues to astonish me why the sale of fireworks hasn't been banned in this country. In the wrong hands – from bored hoodies with a thirst for mischief to religious extremists throwing them through the letter box of an anti-cause target – they are lethal weapons. Yet no government has yet had the stomach to set the legislation in motion.

I'm not a killjoy and realise the pleasure they can bring at organised displays, or even in back gardens where careful adults put on a magical treat for children. And I appreciate it seems unfair that the responsible should suffer because of the actions of the irresponsible. But in this case the price is simply too high.

Year after year, we hear about terrible bonfire night injuries.

It seems ludicrous that you cannot take a can of cola through airport security because of its potential risk to passenger safety. Yet any 18 year old – or younger if the shop assistant is dozy enough – can get their hands on such dangerous devices.

How can we, as a civilised society, allow the continued sale of explosives, without any thought of the dangers they pose to innocent individuals who have the misfortune to stray into their path.

How often do we read of whole communities who are rocked by anti-social behaviour and marauding yobs. So why do we literally light the fuse of the ASBO culture by allowing fireworks to be available over the counter?

Here is just a selection of other stories from UK and Eire in the last week.

A WOMAN had a lucky escape when reckless vandals pushed a lit firework through her letterbox.
The incident happened in Bedford Avenue, South Shields, on Tuesday evening when the homeowner found the firework – which didn't go off – in the passageway of her home. As police and fire crews are gear up for Guy Fawkes Night, all rest days have been cancelled and neighbourhood policing teams will be out patrolling their beats – some carrying hand-held cameras to capture bad behaviour on film which can be used as evidence in court.  

FIREWORKS shoved through letterboxes in the Ballycolman estate on Halloween night could have fatally injured someone.
That is the claim from one resident whose letterbox was destroyed in the attacks. Eamon Doherty was not at home when the vandalism occurred. Speaking to the Chronicle on Tuesday, he called for those involved to consider the consequences of such actions.

He told us, "The attack occurred sometime after 10pm. When I arrived home at 4am I noticed the damage straight away. "The metal part of the letterbox from the inside was blown right into the kitchen area. The outside part was completely destroyed, which indicates that this wasn't some ordinary 'banger'.  "The massive force suggests that it may have been a few 'bangers' tied together. "I have a curtain behind the letterbox and nine times out of ten my girlfriend would pull the curtain when we leave the house. It was fortunate that she didn't do it on Saturday night because it could have caused a serious fire. "For parts of the letterbox to end up in the kitchen area it indicates the massive force of the fireworks. It doesn't bear thinking what could've happened to someone, especially a child, if they were in the hall at the moment of the explosion.  

A BOOTLE mum and her six month old baby were rescued from a house fire after a rocket was fired through their letterbox on Mischief Night.

Laura Caveney, 18, was asleep in her bedroom with her six month old daughter Olivia, when she was startled by a bang followed by a red flash which lit up the house on Ash Street. The rocket exploded in the hall setting fire to the stairs, carpet and wallpaper. Thick black smoke billowed from the hall up to the top of the house, and the young mum quickly realised she was trapped upstairs with her baby. Laura, who has been living in Bootle for four months, grabbed the mobile from under her pillow and dialled 999, before banging desperately against the window in a bid to attract attention. A passing girl soon spotted Laura and tried to kick open her front door, before Merseyside Fire and Rescue arrived on the scene a little after 10.30pm. Officers wearing breathing apparatus knocked down the front door and reached the stranded mother and baby upstairs. Laura was told to put a coat on and cover her baby's face before she was led downstairs through the smoke to safety.  

Since the middle of October, firefighters have been called to deal with 57-separate firework related incidents. These include people throwing fireworks, pushing them through people's letter boxes and injuries caused by them.  

POLICE are hunting yobs who fired a rocket flare into a family's living room at their city home. A mother and son were in the house as the powerful firework smashed through a double-glazed window and started a blaze at their home in Wonford. And terrified neighbours feared the worst when they heard a loud bang and saw black smoke billowing out of the house in Rutherford Street. The incident has prompted a stark warning from fire chiefs on the eve of Bonfire Night that the misuse of fireworks will not be tolerated.  

PEOPLE sleeping in a house in Exeter escaped unhurt after pranksters put a lighted firework through their letterbox in the early hours of Sunday morning.  The firework caused slight fire damage to the ground floor while the rest of the house was heavily smoke-logged. The occupants of the house, in Monks Road, Polsloe, were woken up by a smoke alarm.  Fire crews used a positive pressure ventilation fan to clear the smoke  

A GREENOCK mum feared she could have been killed after a firework was put through her letterbox. Joan Ogilvie, 39, was watching television at home when she heard a hissing sound and jumped to her feet and ran to the door. She said: "I was screaming - I saw the smoke and the sparkling colours of it. The door was locked and I was looking for the key. "I opened the door and the next minute I saw a boy running along the road. I chased him but he was too fast." Luckily the firework only left a scorch mark in the hall but Joan and her husband Daniel, who have a teenage son and daughter, say the incident could have been a lot worse. Joan said: "The electricity meter is in a cupboard in the hall.
"If a fire started there we would have been goners and so would the people in the houses on either side as well."
Joan is furious youngsters are buying fireworks to cause a nuisance She said: "I'm totally disgusted - where are they getting them in the first place?  "I thought they could only be bought for organised displays - I'm totally scunnered."  

Islanders are being asked by Guernsey's firework consultative group to limit Guy Fawkes parties to 5 November in the interests of safety. The group includes the emergency services, the Health and Safety Executive, animal welfare groups and Age Concern.  The group said private celebrations should be finished by 2100 GMT.  It suggested people should show consideration for neighbours, the elderly or those on their own.  Safety leaflets will be available in the run up to Guy Fawkes' Night. The Fire and Rescue Service and the Guernsey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will visit schools to give advice for safe celebrations for people and animals.  

House insurance claims are expected to rise by 270% on Halloween, according to Axa Insurance, while Saga claims 3.6 million homeowners will face damage to their properties as some revellers go too far with nasty pranks aiming to deliberately cause damage.

It is not just Halloween that has insurers on standby: bonfire night (5 November) is also notorious for malicious damage claims, many the result of firecrackers being pushed through letterboxes. Kidd said: "Although it is difficult to avoid someone putting something through the letterbox, people should take extra care to ensure windows and doors are locked, garden gates are secured and outbuildings, such as garages and sheds, are locked." Axa said that following bonfire night last year the average claim for damage caused by a firework or firecracker pushed through a letterbox was £1,000.  

Already this year, northside city councillor Maurice Quinlivan, Sinn Fein, has reported illegal bangers being pushed through people's letterboxes, causing fear for both residents and their pets.  Inspector John O'Reilly, Henry Street Garda station, called on parents of young children to educate them on the danger of fireworks and anti-social behaviour.  New offences and penalties for the illegal possession and use of fireworks were introduced under the Criminal Justice Act 2006. The penalty for these offences is a fine of up to €10,000 or five years' imprisonment - or both.  "I would urge all parents to monitor the activities of children to ensure their safety in the event of attending any firework displays. Young people may go out and play some pranks, but I would ask all parents to sit down and talk with their children to ensure nothing is done that is illegal," he said.
Police in Cornwall todayappealed for more information after calling on the people involved in a firework-related house fire that killed a woman to "do the decent thing and come forward".

Mary Fox, 59, died after helping her youngest son, Raum, 17, who has learning difficulties, to jump to safety from an upstairs window but was overcome by the blaze before firefighters could save her.

Firefighters arrived within minutes of a 999 call at around 7.15pm on Thursday and found Fox dead in the room from where her son had escaped.

After leaping from the three-storey house, Raum ran to alert neighbours that his mother was still trapped inside.
He was taken to Treliske hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation and is now staying with his eight brothers and sisters.

Police began the investigation after the remains of a firework were found behind the front door of the home in Bodmin.

POLICE have opened a murder inquiry into the death of a mother of nine in a house fire that started when a firework was pushed through her letterbox.

Mary Fox, 59, died after helping her teenage son jump through an upstairs window to save him as flames engulfed the house in Bodmin, Cornwall. Neighbours said Raum Fox, 17, was being targeted by bullies.

The fire started at 7.15pm last Thursday after fireworks were pushed through the door. One neighbour said yesterday that he had seen three children, aged 12-16, shouting "shame, shame" as the fire enveloped the house. Locals said the children were well-known troublemakers in the neighbourhood.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How about adding to your list
Loading stupendous amounts of firework into an un marked van on our very own railway walk. No danger signs to warn the public of this. Its an accident waiting to happen.