Latest FAB news. – 8.5.19

REPLY FROM OPSS

We have received a  reply from OPSS following  the hand in of the the change.org petition. This petition is still running and has close to 379,000 signatures. We would love  more so please make sure you have signed and shared.  Here is the reply Julie Doorne Response Letter Fireworks Petition FINAL (002)

 

CLOSING OF FACEBOOK GROUP

A decision was made to close the FB group. We all felt it had done it’s job and having achieved three debates there was not much more we could do on that score.  It has been archived so is still visible to members but unless there is some very big news there will be no new  comments or posts. The page will remain open for the time being but with slightly less admin attention.

This website will be kept open so check in/follow/subscribe, whatever you need to do to stay in the loop. Any news will be posted on here too.

We should say a massive thank you to everyone who supported the facebook campaign, obviously without you it would have been four women sitting at their own kitchen tables just talking to each other on messenger!  So thank you.

Although the FB group has closed that doesn’t mean FAB have shut up shop and gone away. Just taking  back a bit of space in our lives.

 

PETITIONS COMMITTEE INQUIRY

As I hope you all know, the Petitions Committee called for an inquiry into firework use. Thank goodness someone in government took us seriously.  They asked for submissions from interested parties and to date there are 327. If you would like to view them here is the link.

The actual inquiry is on June 11th. I was invited to speak but sadly I am in Montana. Sue Kerr is going to speak on FABs behalf , thankfully,  it was a chance we couldn’t miss!. If you want to watch that inquiry it will more than likely be on Parliament TV. Look at this link closer to the date.

It is too late to send in a submission but you could always write to your MP, especially if they happen to be on the petitions committee. Even if they are not…. writetothem.com

It would be good to remind your MPs what it is about fireworks that cause you distress, it will be an especially  good idea to do it in the summer, they tend to think most of the problems are knee jerk reactions. This obviously won’t be the case with a letter in May!

 

 

Please stay tuned for any updates.. so long for now…

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Government Inquiry Into Firework Use

We’re delighted to announce that the Government has launched an inquiry into firework use. They have asked people to complete a survey. The deadline is midday on Monday 26 March 2019.

You can also send in a submission (this needs to be in the form of a word document). The deadline for this is Monday 8 April 2019.

There is also a Scottish Government consultation asking for your views. This closes on 13 May 2019.

Whooo hooooo …… ANOTHER Firework Debate…

I am beyond excited about this. To be honest I didn’t think we would get another debate. The time before last time we achieved over the 100,000 they refused a debate as they said they had not long had one on same subject.. NOW we have two in the same year.

THEY MUST HAVE REALISED IT IS IMPORTANT TO SO MANY PEOPLE 

SO now we have to gather the information to send to MPs and rally our support .

Firstly, even if you have written recently to your MP, please just drop them a quick email to remind them the debate is on 26th November 2018 at 4.30 in Westminster Hall.  It is big in our world but not in theirs, so a gentle reminder is in order.  You can email on writetothem.com .It is very quick and easy, takes minutes and costs you nothing.

Secondly, I am going, next week to hand over the change.org petition and I would really love some support. If you can get to Birmingham it would be great to see you all. Date and time tba. I am hoping the media will be there, so you may get your pic in the paper..(make sure you haven’t gone sick from work..just in case.. awkward!)

This is all happening very quickly so don’t hang around, send your email, share the petition, the more signatures the better. Whip up as much support as possible…

Thank you for your continued support. Will put the handover time and date on the page.

See you there. 🙂   Julie

crash, bang and a shaking Mia — Mia’s Travels UK

Mia hates this time of the year. Not that she is aware of what is to come, and for that we are grateful. Imagine if she had the comprehension that fireworks were coming, she would be a nervous wreck waiting for them to start. She hates fireworks (and thunder, loud bangs and we have now […]

via crash, bang and a shaking Mia — Mia’s Travels UK

What now?

So, after another dreadful firework ‘night’ running into another dreadful firework ‘season’. What are we going to do to save some of our pets who don’t have a voice, and those of our family and friends, some of whom are suffering unimaginable distress and anxiety?

I have been sent hundreds of photographs and videos of animals in great distress. Something the Animal Welfare Act is supposed to protect them against. The AWA2006 is not fit for purpose. There is no way for pet owners to use this act. The police (virtually 100%) refuse to get involved. Who else is there to uphold the law, if not them? When writing to MPs the majority send back a copy of the law as it stands … well it doesn’t really STAND does it? It mostly falls over!

I don’t believe I have to list the many conditions, we humans suffer, that are exacerbated by random bangs and flashes which occur during firework ‘season’. And it is a ‘season’, even spoken of in parliament as ‘firework season’. It used to be traditional bonfire night…. no longer can we prepare ourselves or our pets for Guy Fawkes, the one night of fireworks.

The one human condition I will refer to is PTSD.  Whether this is Complex combat PTSD / Combat PTSD, or one of the many other PTSD diagnosis caused by reasons too many to mention. It needs to be said: People who suffer from PTSD have quite enough on their plate without being scared to go out during autumn/winter evenings and increasingly during daylight hours through the winter OR scared to sit in – just waiting …. Or having to medicate ………….Or deciding that there is only one way to escape.

Aside from distress caused to humans and animals, it seems little thought has been given to the abuse against our emergency services who during the ‘season’ are regularly hoax called, only to be ambushed by youths and pelted with fireworks, bricks and bottles. The emergency services are there to protect and save us and this is their reward. Police attend with ambulance crews regularly during this time, as even those that are doing their jobs saving lives are not immune to what appears to be a new sport of firework darts, with the emergency services standing in for the dart board.  Every day during the busy season there are stories that defy logic, fireworks used as weapons as gangs of teenagers fire them at each other in running street battles, fireworks let off into shops, buses, busy streets with no mind to who is walking.  This year yet again we hear of the most heinous crime, fireworks shot at a blind person and their dog, even worse this is not the first time this happened.

I hardly dare mention (in case any terrorist is reading this and doesn’t know) fireworks contain gunpowder. Now I know that the amount of actual gun powder in a firework is minimal and probably several let off together would not blow up a bus. Can you imagine though, how easily fireworks could cause a distraction and chaos if just a few were let off, on say, a London underground platform?   Yes but, I hear you say, if we banned sales they would import from abroad. Of course, illegal imports are ongoing, they are however, subject to another law and other policing. If we banned sales, ALL fireworks would be illegal – easy to check if a legal display is in the area.  Much easier to police You can’t have a secret firework party.

There are possibly 20 Petitions online as is usual this time of year. People are at the end of their tether, they are trying to find a voice. FAB will be their voice.

  • Maybe having seen again the reaction of their ex-marine husband…. (Sorry you will have to imagine what PTSD does to some of our armed forces personnel, I can’t write it here, it seems wrong somehow and is not for me to say really. I have heard first hand from wives and mothers and it makes me cry when I think of it.) Suffice to say, you would not want to be in that position.
  • Maybe they have just had their horse put to sleep because it ran through a barbed wire fence onto the road…. Oh, and injured a car driver in the process. #nothorsesfault.       NOTE … please report ALL incidents, road traffic, fireworks, etc to BHS on their incident line. These stats go to the government so definitely worth completing the short easy form.
  • Maybe they have just found their dog, after searching in vain for days, only to find it dead in a ditch. I hear many of these incidents virtually every month through autumn and winter.
  • I haven’t touched on the cost to pet owners over the season in sedatives, thunder jackets, chewed door frames, broken fences and stable doors, herbal remedies and all manner of other things we have all tried in a vain attempt to help our pets.

 

FAB will be your voice.

A little about the campaign I started. FAB (Firework Abatement Campaign) has been campaigning for over 4 years now. We have been behind 3 successful government petitions (over 100,000 each) achieving 2 government debates.  We are now using Change.org as a platform to launch the 2018 campaign.  We are using Change because we didn’t believe we would get another debate so close to the January 2018 debate. The debates did what we intended they raised the profile of the subject, they got the Government thinking, MPs talking. We also wanted to be able to update and inform our signatories and that is not possible on the government petition site.  The last time I looked we had nearly 300,000 …yes you read that right 300 thousand.  We believe this shows the strength of feeling around the random and overuse of fireworks.  I personally, would like to get 500,000, at least, by Christmas. Hoping then to push that even further over New Year.

I really do understand why people want to start their own petitions; after all I did! I would just like to say however; this 2018 petition is all encompassing. We have tried for a ban, tried for restricted dates, and although they achieved a debate the MPs at that debate could not agree what end game they wanted AND IF THE MPs CAN’T AGREE, what hope for us?  SO, this year we decided to try and force (encourage) the government to do their own research. We have asked for a review of the law. IF this is successful in persuading the MPs to get their act together and wake up and smell the coffee, regarding the distress and anxiety caused by fireworks, then it will be a job well done.

 

To help this campaign there are several things you can do ……. none of which cost you any money and very little time, especially when measured against the amount of time my two-woman team and myself have put into this on your behalf. (Not being funny but my OH goes without his dinner and ironed shirts and most other domestic duties often during firework season, he only sees the top of my head over this laptop while eating a sandwich, he has made!  Oh no don’t laugh. lol)

 

List of what you can do to help.

  1. Firstly join, like, follow the FAB website, groups and pages.

You will get a lot of ‘pinging’ from any FB post you have ‘liked’ ‘commented on’ ‘shared’ or ‘posted’. You can ‘stop notifications’ on each post if you want to. Look for 3 dots next to post title/name.

  1. Sign our petition.
  2. Write to your MP, it doesn’t have to be a long email or anything fancy. Just tell them how fireworks affect you or yours.
  3. LOG all fireworks you hear, (doesn’t have to be at the time) again for stats.
  4. Ring police on 101 and report fireworks after curfew – 11pm except 5th, New Year, Diwali, Chinese New Year. NB Get an incident number or your report will go in the bin. We need the numbers for stats again to go to Government. They only listen to numbers.
  5. Whenever you see a post about fireworks comment with the petition. You can add a sentence to say, “sign for a review of the law…everything else has been debated and rejected.”
  6. If there is a post where animals are injured, we are collecting for stats on the fab anti random firework page. Please ask owner to post on page.

So, the bottom line is, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 has no teeth and the Firework Act 2003 with the Firework Regulations 2004 are also useless protection against fireworks. None of them are fit for purpose.

Therefore, the law must be changed, it can be reviewed by the Office of Product Safety and Standards. This office has the power to recommend to ministers. If you would like to email OPSS yourself here is their email.

We are also supporting the Government petition asking for a ban on public sales.

 

LINKS

https://www.change.org/p/office-for-product-safety-and-standards-review-firework-rules-to-protect-animals-from-injury-and-distress – 333,669 at last count

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/231147  —  240,128 signatures at last count.

 

Submission to Labour Party policy forum

Sent to the Labour Party for submission to  https://www.policyforum.labour.org.uk/commissions/environment/fireworks-reform-of-regulations

Labour-Party-submission

Fireworks – a call for reform of fireworks regulations in the UK

Fireworks have the potential to cause physical, emotional and environmental damage. The sale of fireworks to the general public has increased very substantially over recent years and public concern about fireworks is increasing year-on-year. Supermarkets and on-line retailers provide a wide range of imported fireworks including powerful F3 (Category 3) display fireworks for sale to the general public. Anyone over the age of 18 can buy and use fireworks up to and including Category 3 fireworks at any time of the year and in any quantity. Public concern about fireworks has been demonstrated by the numerous petitions to parliament with 57 fireworks petitions submitted to the UK Government and Parliament petition website in the year 2017-2018 alone. In addition, petition sites such as change.org, the petition site, etc have many petitions against fireworks submitted each year.

Firework and anti-social behaviour

The level of anti-social behaviour with fireworks is very significant and there is evidence from the press and from the media and that the level is increasing year-on-year. In recent years, there have been a substantial number of reports in the press of deliberate use of fireworks as weapons to attack people and animals and there are numerous reports of fireworks attacks on police, fire and ambulance crews. The deliberate use of fireworks to frighten or injure people and animals is now commonplace and occurs at all hours of the day and night irrespective of the legal curfew on the late-night use of fireworks. Typically, this behaviour is due to young men and boys, many of whom are well below the minimum legal age to purchase, or have possession of, fireworks in a public place.

Fireworks and animals

Pets, domestic animals and wildlife are severely traumatized by fireworks noise and the environmental damage caused by the virtually unrestricted availability of cheap fireworks to the general public. Category F3 fireworks permit a maximum noise level of 120 decibels which is ‘equivalent to a jet aircraft taking off’ (RSPCA report). This noise level for animals is terrifying and both the RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association have called for the maximum noise level of consumer fireworks reduced to 95 decibels. Animal charities and organizations such as the RSPCA, the SSPCA, the BVA, the Dogs Trust and the Blue Cross have repeatedly called for stronger regulation of fireworks and fireworks use. Each year many animals are panicked or traumatized by fireworks often resulting in severe injury or death. There are many reports, where animals such as dogs, cats, horses have been involved in road accidents due to panic from unexpected fireworks noise and flash (FAB report link). Also reported are horses aborting foals or maiming themselves and animals dying from shock and panic after exposure to an unexpected fireworks noise.

Fireworks accident data

Fireworks are highly dangerous pyrotechnic devices which can cause severe injuries, ranging from severe burns to blinding and sometimes even to death. Table 1 shows the annual NHS statistics for hospital admissions and A&E attendances due to fireworks injuries over the last 10 years in England alone. These statistics show a sharp increase in hospital admissions over the last two years with the highest total over the last 10 years (183) in the last available year (2016-2017) and the second highest total (168) in the last available year but one (2015-2016).  The breakdown of hospital admissions for children (age 14 and under) is even more alarming as the number of admissions in this age group has almost tripled over the last four years. Again, the highest total over the previous 10 years (59) occurred in the last available year (2016-2017) with the second highest total (53) in the last available year but one (2015-2016).

The A&E attendances due to fireworks injuries show a similar pattern of increase with the highest total over the last 5 years (5,340) in the last available year (2016-2017) and the second highest total (5,224) in the last year but one (2015-2016). The A&E attendances data for 2011-2012 was unreliable and discounting this year the A&E total for the last year of available data (2016-2017) was the highest for 10 years with the second highest total in the in the last year but one (2015-2016).

Table 1 Fireworks injuries: counts of hospital admissions and A&E attendances for England from 2008-2017 sourced from NHS Digital data.

Annual period Hospital admissions A&E attendances
From To Totals Age (0-14) Totals
April 2007 March 2008 131 41 2,952
April 2008 March 2009 100 27 1,643
April 2009 March 2010 94 25 2,141
April 2010 March 2011 158 42 6,173
April 2011 March 2012 164 37 NA
April 2012 March 2013 137 22 4,999
April 2013 March 2014 120 22 4,434
April 2014 March 2015 114 36 4,506
April 2015 March 2016 168 53 5,224
April 2016 March 2017 184 59 5,340

Overall, the NHS fireworks accident data for England shows evidence of increases both for the number of hospital admissions and for the number of A&E attendances, especially over the last two years. There is also clear and compelling evidence that the percentage of the total number of fireworks injuries showed a disproportionately significant increase for children of age 14 and under.

Public concern

Concern over fireworks use has increased steadily over recent years and the Government has been petitioned regularly to impose stronger regulation on the availability and use of fireworks and there is now an urgent need to review fireworks regulation.

The main public concern is about the availability and use of powerful and dangerous fireworks by untrained and unlicensed members of the general public. Almost all of the serious accidents and injuries to people and the majority of the injuries and trauma to animals are due to fireworks use by untrained and unlicensed members of the general public. The increasing numbers of accidents to young people and children and the increasing levels of anti-social behaviour show that the problem of fireworks misuse is increasing year-on-year. Fireworks are not now restricted to a single day of the year (November 5th in England or New Year in Scotland) but are used indiscriminately at almost any time of the year. The fireworks issue cannot be resolved by ‘public education’ and for many people the availability of powerful fireworks for ‘private use’ is unacceptable. Fireworks are never ‘private’ and the huge social and financial costs of fireworks misuse and fireworks injuries to people and animals mean that the unrestricted availability and use of fireworks by private individuals is no longer acceptable.

Call for reform

Reform of the fireworks regulation is a now top priority for the many people who suffer blighted lives due to the almost unrestricted availability of fireworks to the general public. Backyard or back-garden fireworks are an especial source of danger and upset to many people

The vast majority of fireworks are Category 3, (Display Fireworks) all of which state that spectators must be at least 25 metres away when the firework is fired. This is a safety concern as few people have access to that amount of private space. (Wikipedia).

Injury figures support the advice that the safest place to enjoy fireworks is at a large public display – far fewer people are injured here than at smaller family or private parties. (ROSPA).

Over the last seven years we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of people calling our emergency line, worried about the effect that fireworks are having on the animals around them. (RSPCA).

We call for a review of the fireworks regulations (The Fireworks Regulations 2004) with the aim of better controlling the availability of fireworks to the general public and especially with the aim of ensuring that powerful category 3 ‘Display’ fireworks are not available for unlicensed sale and use by the general public.

 

Links and references

 

Regulation of fireworks: http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN05704/SN05704.pdf

House of Commons Debate Pack: http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CDP-2018-0018/CDP-2018-0018.pdf

FAB report (2018): https://fireworkabatement.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/full-report-april-2016.pdf

FAB report (2018): https://fireworkabatement.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/addendum-to-report-2018.pdf

BVA Policy: https://www.bva.co.uk/uploadedFiles/Content/News,_campaigns_and_policies/Policies/Companion_animals/fireworks-and-animals-policy-position.pdf

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fireworks_law_in_the_United_Kingdom

NHS statistics: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/hospital-admitted-patient-care-activity/2016-17

RSPCA: https://www.rspca.org.uk/whatwedo/latest/blogs/details/-/articleName/Blog_Fairer_fireworks

ROSPA: https://www.rospa.com/home-safety/advice/fireworks-safety/

Fireworks Regulations 2004: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2004/1836/contents/made