Fireworks loving families are being warned not to buy fireworks off the internet ahead of a bonfire night with few, if any, organised displays.
As November 5 approaches trading standards officers and police have seen an increase in adverts for rockets, Roman candles, sparklers and other pyrotechnics on websites like Facebook and Gumtree.
Cllr John-Paul Stephenson, Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for environment and regulatory services, said: “Our communities are very diverse, with residents often using fireworks to celebrate a range of religious and cultural events, of which Guy Fawkes Night is obviously a major part.
“However, whether buying, selling, using or watching them you need to make sure you know how to stay safe, obey the law and be a considerate neighbour.
“Fireworks are potentially very dangerous and because of that their sale is controlled, with only licensed specialist shops allowed to sell them year-round, and registered sellers – like supermarkets – only allowed to sell them for certain short periods.
“Ordinarily we would encourage anyone who wanted to enjoy a display to attend one that has been professionally organised, but we appreciate, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, that this year there are few events taking place.
“Therefore please – please – think twice before buying fireworks for your own use, and if you do decide to do so, make sure you buy them from a reputable supplier, not an advert on social media or someone selling them from their home.”
In recent years trading standards, Northumbria Police and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service have dealt with a number of incidents of illegal firework sales as part of Operation Vulcan, including one in which more than 300kg of explosives were improperly stored – something a court heard could have been “a potential disaster.”
And in the run up to bonfire night 2020 teams are again identifying and targeting people selling items online, with particular issues already dealt with in the West Denton and Coxlodge areas.
When can you let fireworks off?
Households are also being reminded of the rules around when you can hold a display.
Fireworks must not be set off between 11pm and 7am, except for Bonfire Night, when the cut off is midnight, and New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, when the cut off is 1am.
As well as targeting illegal firework dealers the council, Your Homes Newcastle (YHN), police and fire service’s Operation Fawkes returns from November 3 to 6.
Last year it saw more than 20 tonnes of potential bonfire fuel collected over a five days, up from 12 tonnes in 2018.
This year it will again look to identify and remove combustible materials from council and YHN land; use civil enforcement powers where individuals, households and businesses are, for example, hoarding waste; and see officers patrolling key “hot spot” areas across the city, to triage incidents and reduce the need for emergency services to respond.
Households are strongly advised not to build a bonfire.
However, if you still do – in your garden or on your own land – please make sure what you burn is both legal and safe, and that you spare a thought for wildlife and your neighbours.
Cllr Irim Ali, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and public health, said: “Of course enjoy the occasion but please remember that it is illegal to burn most types of waste and setting fire to treated wood, tyres, plastics, rubber, oil, old bits of furniture, mattresses and household rubbish gives off toxic fumes that can seriously harm health – particularly in the midst of a pandemic that affects people’s lungs and breathing – and pollute the environment.
“We would very much urge you not to build a bonfire, but if you must then do it as close to the day as possible, so that wildlife don’t make a home in it; make sure it is well away from trees, buildings, bushes or dry grass; and ensure the fire or smoke will not affect any houses, buildings or roads, and be a danger to public safety.
“Only ever burn clean wood, never leave the fire unattended, and make sure it is out before leaving it alone.”
Find out more
For more information about enjoying a safe bonfire night visit www.newcastle.gov.uk/fireworks