Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Guy Fawkes: Damp weather should reduce fire risk

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

The fire service says damp weather over much of the country should help reduce the number of problems they will encounter during the weekend when fireworks are set off.

The service's manager of rural fire operations Gary Lockyer said there were dry areas in parts of Canterbury and Otago and on the east coast of the North Island.

But he said crews everywhere would be on "high alert" in the days leading up to and following Guy Fawkes on Monday.

He said people in rural areas needed to remember that if they were going to be lighting bonfires, they would need a fire permit.

Assistant National Commander Brian Butt said there had been a dramatic reduction in emergency calls related to fireworks since the 2007 changes in regulations affecting their sale.

In 2007 the purchase age was increased from 14 to 18 and fireworks sales were restricted to the four days before November 5.

Previously sales were permitted for 10 days.

"In recent years the only noticeable increase in fire-related calls has been on the nights that the event is widely celebrated - usually the Saturday closest to 5 November."

The Government's labour group said they would not be monitoring sales of fireworks but if anyone complained about who the explosives were being sold to, it would launch an investigation.

Last year 1135 tonnes of fireworks were imported, and the Society for the Protection of Animals fears people have stockpiled them, which will extend this fireworks season.

The SPCA advised pet owners to take special precautions to protect their animals over the Guy Fawkes season, however it acknowledged responsible owners could not be expected to keep animals confined indefinitely.

SPCA national chief executive Robyn Kippenberger said flight due to fear of fireworks invariably resulted in harm to animals and distress to owners.

"Surely injury and death of animals cannot be an 'acceptable' result for a celebration that is not part of our history or culture. Guy Fawkes fireworks cause millions of dollars of damage to people, property and pets every year - damage that is totally avoidable," Ms Kippenberger said.

Staying safe:

* read and follow the instructions on fireworks before using them;

* light in a wide open area away from anything that could catch fire;

* fireworks and alcohol/drugs are a dangerous combination;

* always let an adult light the fireworks;

* keep a bucket of water or a hose handy;

* keep all unlit fireworks in their box or bag until you light them;

* leave dud fireworks alone - trying to relight them is unsafe;

* burns should be doused in cold, running water for 20 minutes.

Think about others:

* put away the fireworks after 10.30pm;

* keep your pets inside on Guy Fawkes Night;

* point fireworks to the stars, not at your mates.

- APNZ

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