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POLL: Do we need to clamp down on fireworks?

Thursday 08 November 2018

POLL: Do we need to clamp down on fireworks?

As 2018's firework night, or nights, are drawing to a close, the annual question has once again been raised - are fireworks a thing of the past?

Previously, suggestions have been made that silent fireworks should be adopted, or other methods of ensuring those people who hate them are allowed to relax at the start of November year on year.

But many still support big, licensed events, like the Footes Lane display or the one at Northfield, even critics of firework displays acknowledge when they are preplanned and properly regulated, it at least allows people to prepare.

So Express is asking its readers whether they think in the future, it should only be licensed events that are allowed, with just a handful of major displays to celebrate bonfire night - all without selling fireworks to the public.

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"Without a shadow of a doubt we always promote going to organised events." - Steve Byrne.

Steve Byrne, Manager at the GSPCA, said while this year hadn't been the worst he had seen for distressed animals and pets, it hadn't been the best either.

"The worst thing we had this year was a cat that had been hit by a car, and also a bird who was also hit in a road. We don't know if they were scared into the roads by the noise, but the time of the incidents certainly make it look that way," he said.

"We have also had a hedgehog in from a public display, and several stray dogs, who have thankfully since all been reunited by their owners. 

"Without a shadow of a doubt we are always promoting going to organised firework events. They are a lot safer with professionals and people know everything is happening in one central location. For animal owners, it is much more safe when they can see what is going to be happening in advance." 

Each year, the GSPCA issue advice for pet owners on how to make sure their animals are as comfortable as possible, especially in light of increased awareness of how distressed animals can become. 

They list the following points to help:

  • Give your animal a collar in case he escapes, as it makes it easier to reunite the animal with the owner.
  • Walk your dog during the day.
  • Keep your animal inside when the sun goes down.
  • Go to organised events if you can.
  • Notify neighbours of any firework intentions.
  • Safely secure any horses in their stables so they cannot bolt and injure themselves if they are startled. 
  • Remember to bring rabbits etc inside.
  • Speak to your vet for further advice if your animal is particularly distressed.

This year, there was a total of six major licensed displays run by Standard Fireworks Guernsey, who are one of the major groups who run the displays. There were also other licensed displays run over the weekend, on Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 November. 

"We completely agree that public use fireworks shouldn’t be set off by individuals late at night as this is inconsiderate." The Director of Standard Fireworks Guernsey.

The Director of Standard Fireworks spoke to Express, and said: "We keep seeing comments about “silent fireworks”. We could like to clarify that there is no such thing! A firework needs a lifting charge to get out of the firing tube and an explosion to create the effect. Any videos you may have seen showing “silent fireworks” have been edited. There are quieter fireworks which we have been importing and using for a number of years and fireworks for the use of the public. EU regulations in respect of the noise level of fireworks is 120db. We carried out some testing over the few nights we did our displays, testing professional and public use fireworks. The maximum reading we had was 90db.

"The fireworks which are quieter are Roman candles. These are only suitable for small displays and not for shows like Liberation Day etc. The reason we do shows over three nights is because we are a small team and do not have the man power to do the amount of shows people want on one night. The maximum we can do on one night is two displays. A lot of the clubs we do this for rely on this income from admission fees, food, bar etc. We completely agree that public use fireworks shouldn’t be set off by individuals late at night as this is inconsiderate.

"There is a large percentage of people who love fireworks and it would be unfair for the small percentage of people that want them banned to ruin this. What about the sound of go karting all day, shooting at Fort Le Marchant all day, the sprint, the hill climb, sand racing, autocross, shooting season, cobo balcony gig etc. We seem to live in a society that wants to ban something because a small minority don’t like it.

The director said this year, there had been a significant drop in public firework sales already, and there had been less being set off than in previous years.

"We completely sympathise with people who have animals that are terrified. There is prior warning that displays are going ahead and I wonder what people do when there are thunder storms and the noise of the red arrows. If fireworks are banned completely this will change events here ie North Show and Liberation Day."

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