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Chinese New Year 2022, the Year of the Tiger, will be celebrated on Tuesday 1 February. Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service would like to wish those within our community a safe, happy and successful time throughout this period.

We would also like to take this opportunity to share important fire safety advice, and to remind participants of the risks posed by fireworks. They should be stored in a cool and dry environment, and the manufacturers’ instructions should be followed.

Business premises that are permitted to sell fireworks are reminded that signage stating the following should be on display to members of the public:

“It is illegal to sell category F2 fireworks or category F3 fireworks to anyone under the age of 18. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess category F2 fireworks or Category F3 fireworks in a public place.”

Storage of fireworks within the premises should be kept clear of escape routes and restricted to authorised personnel, only accessible by lock and key.

Group Commander Phill Mould, Head of Protection for Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service, said:

“Fortunately fire and rescue services are not often called to attend incidents that involve fireworks on a large scale. This is due to the good practices generally adopted throughout Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes. If we were to attend a firework incident, this presents a risk and could affect the dynamics and decisions made at the time.

“For this reason, it is very important that business premises that are permitted to store and sell fireworks work closely with their local authority and Trading Standards so that we are aware fireworks are onsite.”

Do

  • Read the guidance for intended use of fireworks and ensure that this is adopted
  • Buy fireworks that are CE marked, and from premises that are licensed to the sell them
  • When setting off fireworks, direct them away from buildings and spectators
  • Use fireworks only during the permitted timeframes (Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve, three days prior to Diwali and three days prior to Chinese New Year)
  • Visit hse.gov.uk/explosives/fireworks/industry.htm for further advice on storing and selling fireworks

Don’t

  • Throw or set off fireworks in a public place
  • Set off fireworks after 1am during the permitted dates
  • Use a naked flame or cigarettes close to fireworks
  • Return to a firework once it has been lit
  • Handle fireworks once they are ready to be used
  • Use any lighting aids such as petrol or paraffin on fireworks, as these will take the firework out of its usual working limits
  • Handle fireworks if you have consumed alcohol or drugs

Use of sky lanterns

The use of lanterns is a tradition going back thousands of years in Chinese history, and is thought to bring about good luck and prosperity to those using them. However, we have safety concerns.

  • While these lanterns are undoubtedly a popular and beautiful sight, the potential damage they can cause is significant.
  • These floating lanterns not only constitute a fire hazard, but also pose a risk to livestock, agriculture, camping activities, thatched properties and hazardous material sites.
  • Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service does not support the use of these devices and asks members of the public and event organisers to refrain from using them.

1 in 6 homes in the UK is at risk of being affected by flooding. You can never eliminate the risk of flooding, but you can reduce the risk of water getting into your home and reduce its impact if it does get in. Being prepared by making a flooding action plan is one way of minimising the risks.

Bad or adverse weather can be unpredictable and it is common to get caught out while on the road. The best way to stay safe on the road in extremely bad weather is to avoid driving at all. However, for many people we recognise that is not always possible.

Everyone should be able to enjoy fireworks safely, whether at an organised display or in their back garden.

An organised, public fireworks display is much safer and more impressive than setting up your own. Details of public fireworks displays can usually be found in the local newspapers and on the local radio station websites.

Whilst most people enjoy fireworks responsibly, in the wrong hands they can cause real misery. Remember that fireworks are explosives, and as such should be treated with respect and only used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the Firework Code.

Irresponsible use of fireworks can cause damage to property and do significant harm to people and animals. Not only is there a danger from fireworks exploding, they can also pose a serious fire risk as well.

Members of the public may only use fireworks on private property, such as their back garden. Only licensed professionals can use fireworks in public places.

Sky lanterns (also known as Chinese lanterns) have been known to start fires, which have in some cases developed into major incidents. They are increasingly being banned by local legislation and Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service does not support the use of sky lanterns.

Last year (April 2021 to March 2022) we attended 43 chimney fires – an increase of 19 per cent on those recorded the previous year.

By having your chimney flue professionally swept and regularly inspected, you can help to prevent a chimney fire occurring at your property.

When wood or coal is burnt, gasses are given off. These turn into soot and tar (creosote) which accumulates on the inside of the chimney. Occasionally loose bricks, birds nests and other debris can fall down within a chimney, acting as fuel.

A blocked or defective chimney can cause carbon monoxide poisoning as well as a fire, so regular inspection and cleaning of chimney flues can help to identify and eliminate issues before they become a problem.