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Manchester emergency services team up to stop Bonfire Night and firework plans going up in smoke

By Matt Davies

Fireworks have gone on sale today as Manchester begins Halloween and Bonfire Night preparations – but firefighters are battling to make sure that autumn celebrations are enjoyed safely.

With the dangers associated with fireworks and bonfires dedicated teams of people are looking to ensure that this year’s celebrations don’t go up in a cloud of smoke.

Treacle hubs have been set up in a bid to prevent anti-social behaviour and criminal damage around Greater Manchester while reducing incidents and injuries involving fireworks and bonfires are also targeted.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) Head of Prevention Dave Keelan is keen to ensure public safety by warning people of the dangers of fireworks.

He said: “As Bonfire Night approaches we want everyone to enjoy it safely and we are working with partners to make that happen.”

During the bonfire season in 2011 there were nine firework related injuries, of which eight involved children aged 16 and under.

Treacle task forces consisting of firefighters, police and Trading Standards will carry out checks on premises to check that they comply with UK law.

Mr Keelan added: “From today it is legal to sell fireworks with the correct licence or registration until November 13, and GMFRS’ fire protection officers will be visiting premises storing them to check people are complying with regulations.

“Our firefighters and community safety teams are visiting schools to talk to children about the dangers of fireworks and encouraging them and their parents to go to organised bonfire events.”

The ten partnership hubs are based in each borough of Greater Manchester and together will form the task force aiming to keep the public safe and ensure an enjoyable bonfire season.

New regulations regarding fireworks and pyrotechnics have been introduced over the last five years in a bid to cut the number of accidents and injuries sustained from the misuse of rockets and explosives.

It is an offence for anybody under the age of 18 to be found in possession of fireworks in a public place – carrying an on-the-spot fine of £80 – and tighter laws on the storage of fireworks look to further reduce the risks.

A mid-night curfew also exists over the bonfire period, with fines of up to £5,000 and imprisonment for those found guilty of disturbing the peace.

Category 3 fireworks, the highest legal category in the UK, are limited to 120 decibels of noise and require a safe viewing distance of 25 metres.

Category 4 fireworks are for professional displays only and it is an offence for members of the public to be in possession of these explosives.

Professional displays offer a safer and more entertaining spectacle than a garden display although Treacle Hubs remain prepared.

GMFRS Community Safety Team Leader Graham Brennan, a member of the Stockport Hub, said: “We’re set and ready to help people have a safe and enjoyable time this autumn and to do this we recommend that people go only to organised bonfires.”

Details of organised events this Bonfire Season can be found on the Treacle website at www.safe4autumn.com.

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