Time to stop the general sale of fireworks

It’s 2100 hours on a cold November the 5th night.  Outside there are flashes and bangs.  Periodic peerings out the window and I have yet failed to see one colourful display.  I am left wondering whether people are just throwing bangers or whether there are actually firework displays going on.

At about 1630 today, while still light around here, the banging began.  What is the purpose of setting off fireworks in the daylight? Is it more about the noise than the vision?

Throughout the evening there have been whoops of glee, screams, shrieks and bangs, lots of and lots of bangs.  There have also been, in this house and in many others, distressed pets.  Outside there are distressed wild life.  Around the country there are ex-military of all ages whose nerves are set on edge at the constant banging.

Then you have the Fire crews out there tonight, responding to an increase in calls because it is Bonfire Night and for one reason or another an amateur display has got out of control, or people are misusing fireworks.  Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue reported 200 calls made to their service since 1600 hours, a usual day brings in about 70-80 calls.

Crews go out, doing their job, and get missiles thrown at them by youths who are either bored or undisciplined, or who just don’t have a clue what it is they’re doing.  Sometimes the crews are lured out, sometimes just out doing their jobs when the youths happen on them.  This is not unique to Bonfire Night of course.

The point of this is the question – is it time to end the general sale to the public of fireworks? Registered, well organised displays are one thing, like Meadowbank but the fact that almost anyone can purchase fireworks for private displays has maybe had its day.  Who does it benefit to have fireworks on general display?

With organised displays at least fire services, police and ambulance services would know where the displays were.  At the moment there can be any amount of displays and bonfires going on.  There were at least three locations very close to my house where fireworks were being set off tonight.  If that’s true for every part of the city then there literally are countless points for potential fires, potential injury.  The potential for it all to go wrong.

Organised displays may cost you to view but you’d pay for the fireworks anyway.  Only, in this case, you’d be safe in the knowledge that there’s been planning, that the fire, police and ambulance services are aware it’s going on and, if there were only organised displays there would be less chance of things going wrong.   Indeed, the fire services could provide advice to organisers before the display.

Fireworks are better viewed in organised displays, whether they be at Edinburgh Castle, at the opening ceremony of the Olympics, at New Year or in well organised local displays.

As I listen to the odd random bang going on now it’s clear that these are not part of any display but are fireworks in the hands of people who have the potential to use them as weapons as much as they are going to use them as part of a display to remember Guy Fawkes.

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