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Guy Fawkes the worst in 10 years

Guy Fawkes the worst in 10 years

November 24, 2005.

This year’s Guy Fawkes festivities bought nearly 2000 call-outs for Police and Fire Service personnel, with Fire Service figures showing it was the worst Guy Fawkes in 10 years.

In the 10-day period this year when fireworks were legally for sale (October 27 to November 5) firefighters attended over 700 fireworks-related fires in vegetation, buildings, and cars as well as nuisance fires in rubbish bins, letterboxes and other small spaces.

Police attended nearly 1200 fireworks-related incidents, with 21 percent of all call-outs for disorderly behaviour, bomb incidents and property damage being fireworks related.

In all there were 1867 fires, up 70 percent on 2004 and the highest number since sky rockets were banned following a disastrous Guy Fawkes Day in 1994.

The biggest rise was in small fires such as those set in rubbish bins and letterboxes, up 50 percent on 2004 to about 350 fires.

Initial Police figures show that, in addition to the fires, more than 240 letterboxes were destroyed or damaged by fireworks.

Vegetation fires were up 34 percent on 2004 to 330.

Chief fire officer Paul Baxter says this is evidence that the explosive power of fireworks is increasing.

“Static fireworks now reach hundreds of feet in the air, making them virtually indistinguishable from skyrockets in terms of the distance they travel and where they end up.

“This means that even when people use fireworks responsibly there is greater scope for something to go wrong.”

Inspector Marc Paynter from the Office of the Police Commissioner says there is a high level of concern about the misuse of fireworks and growing strain they are putting on police resources.

"We have seen the usual incidence of fireworks being shot at people, animals and vehicles, all of which are disturbing; but what we find incredible this season is such things as fireworks being shot at gas stations and set off in a commercial forest."

"The trend to blow things up using modified fireworks may be in the historical spirit of Guy Fawkes celebrations, yet many underestimate the damage and injuries these home made firework bombs can and do cause."

The number of fireworks imported into New Zealand this year was more than 50 percent greater than 2004.

Both the Police and Fire Service have provided information to the relevant Government agencies including the Environmental Risk Management Authority and Environment Ministry about the increase in call-out numbers in support of a public ban on fireworks sales.

Total fires between October 27 and November 5 by year:

Year Total fires Year Total fires
1996 1015 2001 795
1997 1253 2002 918
1998 787 2003 1049
1999 756 2004 1087
2000 1077 2005 1867

ENDS

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