'Local concern' has fire brigade on go

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 05:00 09/11/2012

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Waitemata fire fighters noted a more than 50 per cent increase in incidents requiring their attendance during this year's Guy Fawkes period compared to last year, senior fire risk management officer George Stephens says.

The increase in call outs from November 2 to 5 could be due to people becoming less tolerant of fireworks activity, he says.

"The community is aware they don't have to put up with it anymore."

Increasing disturbance is a "local concern", but the majority of fire service call outs over Guy Fawkes are unnecessary, Mr Stephens says.

"I would say 70 to 75 per cent of what we go to we don't really need to. Fireworks are fireworks and it's usually just a case of some people not wanting it.

"Whereas in the old days we would be dancing around all night going to bonfires as you didn't need a permit."

Nowadays less people are taking part in their own fireworks displays, Mr Stephens says, and a recent nationwide survey showed around 90 per cent of people were opposed to private displays.

"I would say we will go through a natural decline. The ball is in the community's court and a lot of people are starting to say ‘no we don't want it'," Mr Stephens says.

But a small number of public nuisances continue to cause concern, he says.

"Social media is so convenient for all these types of mischief and the consequences when it comes to fire can be so devastating.

"Often it is an innocent party that suffers," Mr Stephens says.

"We don't want to be the fun police, but it is something we have been focused on."

Despite the rise in call outs over the four day period, the number of calls for Guy Fawkes night alone was down 37 per cent from last year.

Having Guy Fawkes fall on a Monday could have been a factor, Mr Stephens says.

"Often these things progress into parties, inviting friends around and having a few drinks. But when you've got to get up and go to work in the morning that's probably not an attractive option."

No significant fireworks-related injuries were reported.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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