Emergency services urge Hallowe’en safety

Athlone Fire Brigade is appealing to members of the public for their assistance in ensuring Hallowe’en goes by without any serious injury or avoidable emergency call-outs.

Senior assistant chief fire officer in Athlone Fire Station, Pat Hunt, who is himself on call this weekend, says bonfires are a common problem on Hallowe’en night, and that the situation has been worsening in recent years.

“Every year it gets worse and worse. Last year we had multiple call-outs, and the year before we had 11 call outs in an eight-hour period,” said Mr Hunt.

“They were for minor things like bonfires going out of control, and they take resources away from other incidents such as road traffic accidents.

“We have standard cover on Hallowe’en night; we don’t have the manpower or resources for extra cover, so we are depending on the 15 people on call in Athlone,” he added.

According to a set of guidelines recently issued by Westmeath County Council, there are a number of actions members of the public can take to prevent injury this Hallowe’en. Anyone who sees material such as pallets, tyres, and old furniture being hoarded, or who sees a bonfire being built close to buildings, trees, or overhead cables, is asked to contact the council’s environmental section.

Parents are asked to explain the dangers of illegal fireworks to children and teenagers, and to escort them on ‘trick or treat’ visits.

Mr Hunt drew attention to a safety booklet produced by Dublin Fire Brigade, which offers safety tips for Hallowe’en, as well as advice for parents and businesses.

“We all know bonfires go on, and this booklet offers a pragmatic approach. If people insist on having a bonfire, the booklet offers the best guidelines,” he said. The booklet is available online at www.dublincity.ie

Athlone Gardai have also urged members of the public to ensure Hallowe’en festivities are carried out in a safe and secure manner this weekend. They particularly pointed out that according to new legislation under the Criminal Justice Act 2006, it is now illegal to possess or ignite an unlicensed firework, including bangers.

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