With Bonfire Night approaching, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service has issued a warning over the sale of illegal fireworks in the region after fire officers report that some youngsters have had their fingers blown off after lighting bangers.
The alert comes after a report of a gang setting off fireworks in the city centre on Friday night, leaving people frightened and calling in the police.
Student Jess MacDonald was walking down Church Street when she saw a group of around 20 youths outside the McDonald’s in Lord Street and a firework flew past, dangerously close to her head.
She said: “It was absolutely terrifying. I got away as fast as possible and saw a couple of policeman nearby and told them about it. They ran over to the scene but the gang disappeared as soon as the firework went off.”
Officers working in the Firework Incident Research Safety Team (FIRST), along with Merseyside Police, have seized 38 tonnes of illegal fireworks since 2006 and have reminded the public that fireworks can only be sold by retailers between 15th October and 10th November, and shopkeepers must register with the fire service first. If members of the public have any concerns they should contact the police.
Watch manager Ian Mullen, who is leading the bonfire strategy for Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, this year said: “In some serious cases in Merseyside young people have had their fingers blown off by bangers.”
He added: “They are unpredictable and are dangerous. People who sell illegal fireworks, particularly to youngsters, could be responsible for leaving them with serious injuries through firework misuse.”
Mr Mullen also highlighted the dangers of throwing fireworks in the street and warned the public that it is illegal to do so. Joint inspections will be carried out by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service to ensure shops are registered and that people are using fireworks are using them legally and safely.
To crackdown on the issue, Mersyside Police, Fire Officers and Trading Standards will carry out spot checks to ensure retailers are registered. Any retailer caught selling illegally could face up to six months’ imprisonment and a £5,000 fine.
Video report by Jess Ball, JMU Journalism TV