Illegal crackers pose serious risk
Category : Fire Safety
Emergency services came together today to warn the community about the dangers of illegal fireworks in the lead up to the holiday season.
CFA, MFB, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, the Alfred Burns Unit, RSPCA and Worksafe warned the community that the unsafe use of illegal fireworks could result in serious fires, serious injury and criminal charges.
Fire agencies were particularly concerned about the risks fireworks posed following the growth of grass and bush due to good recent rains.
CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said that although many people saw illegal fireworks as an innocent celebration, they cause serious issues for fire services.
“Illegal fireworks have the potential to start fires and cause serious damage to property, grass and bushland and most importantly threaten lives,” he said.
“People need to be sensible and recognise the risks, especially with the high fuel-loads around Victoria.
“The recent heavy spring rains have resulted in a huge amount of growth in forests and grasslands. As the weather warms up, we’re expecting that to dry out and become fuel for fires which is why illegal fireworks pose such a serious risk over the summer period.”
Since 2005, CFA and MFB have responded to more than 660 fires caused by fireworks and other home-made devices.
MFB CEO and Chief Officer Graham Fountain said those fires created a significant workload and risk for fire services.
“It’s an unnecessary demand on MFB and CFA services at a time of year when the fire risks are already heightened,” he said.
“Incidents involving illegal fireworks not only endanger the lives of those involved, but they also spoil what should be a festive holiday season for friends and family.
“Every year people start fires or badly injure themselves by using illegal fireworks.”
Victoria Police Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Murray warned the community there could be serious legal repercussions for setting off fireworks without a license.
“People who attempt to use illegal fireworks should be aware that they can be, and have been, held personally responsible for injuries or damage caused,” he said.
“People caught with them can face harsh penalties including jail. If you wish to inform authorities of illegal fireworks activities contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.
Detective Senior Sergeant Murray said if people start fires they can face jail penalties of up to 15-years imprisonment.
The Monash University Accident Research Centre has revealed worrying statistics around fireworks. The study found that fireworks-related injuries (and subsequent hospitalisations) peaked in December and January and made up more than half of all burns injuries.
Ambulance Victoria Communications Officer, Lauren Nowak, said Victorians are seriously injured every year using illegal fireworks in their backyard, at parties, parks and other venues.
“We have seen some horrible injuries from fireworks including people lose fingers or having a cracker explode in their face and cause serious burns,” she said.
The RSPCA has also warned that illegal fireworks distress pets, especially dogs.
The Emergency Services encouraged anyone wanting to see fireworks to attend official community events which are conducted by licensed and approved pyrotechnicians.