26 October 2020
Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) has called on the community to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on their Firefighters during the ongoing COVID- 19 pandemic by keeping themselves safe this Halloween.
Due to COVID – 19 restrictions, Halloween will be celebrated very differently across Northern Ireland this year. It is anticipated that more people will celebrate Halloween at home therefore increasing the risk of fire. At the same time NIFRS will be continuing to manage the impact of COVID – 19 on its ability to respond to incidents.
Paddy Gallagher, Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS), explains:
“At the start of the pandemic, through our planning, we put arrangements in place to help ensure we continued to deliver a safe and effective fire and rescue service, whilst doing everything to help protect the safety and well-being of our people and the community we serve.
“We are beginning to feel the impact of COVID-19 on our ability to deliver our service and coping mechanisms are being put in place to ensure that we are able to continue to respond to incidents.
“Halloween is traditionally one of our busiest times of year. We anticipate that more people will celebrate Halloween at home this year, rather than attending large publically planned firework displays that would normally take place. This has the potential to increase the risk of fire in the home. This is why we are calling on our community to help support us and be extra fire aware this Halloween to help reduce the number of incidents we are required to attend whilst we manage the organisational impact of the ongoing COVID – 19 pandemic.
“We are strongly encouraging everyone to follow the COVID-19 regulations. We are also asking people to be especially careful when it comes to fireworks, sparklers and fancy dress costumes. You need a licence to buy fireworks and you should only ever use ones with a CE marking. Always light your sparklers one at a time and keep a bucket of water near to hand to put them out in afterwards. Children wearing fancy dress costumes should be kept well away from fire and if they do catch fire remember; stop, drop and roll.
“Last year we responded to the lowest number of incidents on Halloween night in seven years. This was fantastic and we’re really grateful that people followed our simple advice to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
“This has been a difficult time for all of us and we want everyone to have an enjoyable and safe Halloween. Please, support your Firefighters and make sure everybody has a fun time by putting safety first and being aware of additional fire hazards at this time of year.”
NIFRS Halloween Safety Advice
- It is compulsory for anyone wishing to buy or use fireworks to obtain a license. More information on licenses can be obtained from nidirect.gov.uk (search Fireworks).
- Only buy fireworks marked with a CE mark – this shows fireworks meet European Safety Standards.
- Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks.
- Keep fireworks in a closed box when not in use and keep away from ignition sources.
- Follow the manufacturer’s advice on each firework and use them one at a time.
- Light them at arm’s length using a taper. Stand well back.
- Never go near a firework that has been lit, even if it hasn’t gone off as it could still explode.
- Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them.
- Always supervise children around fireworks.
- Keep pets and animals indoors – the flames and noise upset them.
- Don’t set off noisy fireworks late at night and never after 11pm.
Sparklers are often viewed as being harmless but they do burn at fierce temperatures.
- Store sparklers in a closed box in a cool, dry place.
- Always light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves, keeping them at arm’s length.
- Never hold a baby or child if you have a sparkler in your hand.
- Plunge finished sparklers hot end down into a bucket of water as soon as they have burnt out. Sparklers stay hot for a long time.
- Never give sparklers to under 5s – they will not understand how to use them safely.
- Always supervise children using sparklers, give children woollen gloves to wear and teach them how to use them properly.
Children’s Fancy Dress Costumes:
If your child is wearing a fancy dress costume this Halloween –
- Keep children away from naked flames – avoid using a naked flame or candle in pumpkins; use a torch, glow stick or battery operated candle.
- Stop, Drop and Roll if clothing does catch on fire – to try to extinguish the flames and also to stop the flames from rising towards the face.
- Choose a costume and mask that doesn’t restrict a child’s visibility or vision.
- Wear woollen tights or ‘heavy’ trousers (jeans) and a woollen jumper under the costume.
- Ensure children are well supervised at all times.
- Look out for Costumes that are labelled ‘Low Flammability’ ‘BS5722’ or have the European code ‘BS EN 14878’ which meets the higher standard of The Nightwear (Safety) Regulations 1985.