Firefighters attended six more deliberately set fires across Merseyside on Bonfire Night, Saturday 5th November, than on the same date last year, however deliberate fires throughout the entirety of the bonfire period (19th October – 6th November) were down 13.8%.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) attended 32 deliberately set ASB (anti-social behaviour fires – this includes bonfires, wheelie bin and rubbish fires – between 00:00 hours and 23.59 hours on Bonfire Night, as opposed to 26 on November 5th 2021.
On the 5th November, the majority of areas covered by MFRS saw increases in deliberately set fires, with the exception of Knowsley, which saw the same number as the previous year with 2. Sefton saw an increase of 3 incidents - from 2 to 5 fires. Liverpool saw an increase of 1 – from 15 to 16 fires. St Helens also saw a single fire increase – from 3 to 4, and finally Wirral saw a single fire increase – from 4 to 5.
Liverpool saw the highest number of deliberately set fires this year, with fire crews attending 16 deliberate fires, up from 15 in 2021.
MFRS also attended slightly more potentially dangerous bonfires. Firefighters attended 13 potentially dangerous bonfires on November 5th 2022, compared to 11 in 2021.
Liverpool saw the highest number of such bonfires – with fire crews attending 5 within the area. Firefighters attended 4 bonfires in Wirral, 2 in both Sefton and St Helens and none in Knowsley.
Crews attended more incidents related to fireworks – up to 8 from 5 last year – on 5th November 2022. Throughout the entirety of the bonfire period (19th October – 6th November), crews attended 37.5% more firework incidents, with 22 incidents attended against 16 for the 2021 period.
Throughout the whole bonfire period, firefighters have attended 175 deliberately set fires, down 13.8% from last year when they attended 203.
In total, fire control received 226 emergency 999 calls on November 5th in 2022, a decrease of 13.1% from 2021’s figure of 260. Throughout the entire period, fire control received 1,224 emergency 999 calls – down 0.3% from 2021’s figure of 1,228.
Group Manager Franny Hill said: “We are pleased to see that the majority of people across Merseyside enjoyed a safe Bonfire Night. Whilst we saw an increase in the number of deliberate fires on 5th November itself, the reduction in the number of ASB fires throughout the bonfire period is great to see and is undoubtedly down to the work the Service and partner organisations have done during this period. Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service received a very large volume of calls throughout the period, with our Control staff doing a fantastic job of handling them.
“What is concerning is the number of firework incidents we have seen this year – 8 across Merseyside. A number of these have involved fireworks posted through letterboxes and windows – this behaviour is totally unacceptable. It may seem like a laugh or a bit of fun but this kind of behaviour has very serious consequences. Whilst we are lucky that no one has been seriously injured as a result of these incidents, they could have very easily resulted in a fatality.
“As well as seeing a reduction in the number of deliberate fires throughout the period, we also saw a reduction in the number of attacks on our staff. We work extensively with schools to reduce this kind of behaviour and would like to thank them and parents for discussing consequences with young people. Unfortunately, there was still a small minority of the community that chose to attack the very people who are trying to keep them safe. Sadly, this is not specific to Merseyside and has been experienced by fire and rescue services across the country. Firefighters and support staff are not targets – they are members of your community who go above and beyond every day to keep you safe. They do not deserved to be attacked for simply doing their job.”
GM Hill added: “On November 5, we take a tolerant view of bonfires - if they are in the open, supervised by adults and under control we do not extinguish them. Those we attended and put out on Saturday - those included in our statistics - were all considered to be dangerous. We would ask members of the community to be mindful of the proximity of bonfires to houses and the dangers they provide.
“The bonfire period is always extremely busy for us as a Service, though extensive advance planning and partnership work with Merseyside Police, local authorities, registered housing providers and other community partners mean we are able to keep the number of incidents down.
“In recent weeks, firefighters and the prevention team have been out in communities clearing away more than 53.12 tonnes of hazardous rubbish and fly-tipping, which could have been used as fuel for fires, and promoting the safe storage of wheelie bins to help prevent them becoming targets for arson.
“We are thankful to our communities for taking on board our safety messages and advice, and for their support throughout this period.”
As we move in to winter, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service urges everyone to make sure they have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of their home and to ensure it is tested regularly.
For free fire safety advice or to request a home fire safety check, call 0800 731 5958. You can also complete a free online home fire safety check at https://www.safelincs.co.uk/hfsc/?ref=MRSFRS
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service also provides free smoke alarms for Merseyside residents aged 65 or over.