INDEPENDENT NEWS

800-fire weekend vindicates ban call

Published: Mon 6 Nov 2006 11:34 AM
800-fire weekend vindicates ban call
November 6, 2006
The total number of fires recorded over the ten-day Guy Fawkes sale period has topped the previous high-water mark, set last year.
Preliminary fire statistics show there were 1729 fires across New Zealand between October 27 and November 5, compared with 1632 over the same period last year.
Over Saturday and Sunday, November 4 & 5 there were 784 fires recorded.
The actual number of fires started by fireworks will not be known for a few days, but it is also expected to top last year’s record of 700 over the ten-day sale period.
The total number of fires over the sale period has now increased every year for the past five years, from 702 in 2001 to this year’s new record high.
Fire Service chief executive / national commander Mike Hall says the unfortunate result vindicates his call for a retail ban on fireworks, made last month.
“Despite warnings and a safety campaign, and even with parts of the country being much wetter than they were last year, firefighters were still called out more times than ever.
“That means that firefighters cannot respond as quickly as they would like to genuine emergencies, and thousands of volunteers across the country are needlessly called away from work and family commitments.”
Mr Hall says the public are also sick of the danger to themselves, property and pets posed by misuse of fireworks, not to mention the late-night noise and mess associated with people letting off fireworks indiscriminately.
He says the lack of a major fireworks-related fire or fatality at the weekend was pure luck.
“As I said last month – and opinion polls since have backed this up – New Zealand is ready to see fireworks restricted to those professionals who know how to handle them.”
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Total fires during Guy Fawkes sale period (Oct 27 – Nov 5).
Year No of fires Worst day Worst day date
2000 1017 175 November 4
2001 702 166 November 5
2002 827 117 November 3
2003 905 215 November 5
2004 1018 283 November 5
2005 1632 454 November 5
2006 1729 439 November 4
Note: these figures include all actual fires attended by the Fire service, not just fireworks-related fires.
ENDS

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