Firefighters throughout Scotland faced a busy 5th November with initial figures showing Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) crews responded to more than 1,100 incidents including around 507 bonfires across the country last night.
Assistant Chief Officer Dave Boyle, the SFRS director of service delivery, said: “While it will take time to establish the full picture it’s clear we have seen a significant number of incidents requiring the attendance of our crews across Scotland.
“Firefighters responded to 999 calls from the Borders to the Western Isles, many of which related to bonfires that were unsupervised or endangered homes and other buildings.
“It’s important to remember however that our crews were not only involved in bonfire-related activities, they also responded to emergencies including building fires and road traffic collisions.
“As always their professionalism and specialist skills were available and put into practice wherever they were needed to protect the public.”
The importance of that campaign for people to Join Scotland’s Fight Against Fire was made clear as crews responded to a range of emergencies throughout the country.
Firefighters from Paisley, Renfrew, Clydebank, Easterhouse and Govan responded after a car reversed into a house in Renfrewshire. No-one was hurt in the incident at Sandy Road in Renfrew but crews worked to ensure the stability of the building.
It was one of 548 reported incidents in the west of Scotland between 4pm and midnight. Of these 275 were bonfires.
Crews were faced with a busy evening in the east of Scotland with over 30 firefighters from Larbert, Denny, Falkirk and Bo’ness attending a fire in a wood chipper in Cowie near Stirling at 5.20pm.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used three jets to extinguish the fire in the wood chipper that was in the open air and they continued to dampen down and check for hotspots until 8.30pm. It was one of 429 incidents in the east of Scotland, 140 of which were bonfires.
The north of Scotland saw 192 incidents including 92 bonfires. At 6:58pm five wheelie bins were set on fire in Balloan Road, Inverness. One appliance from Inverness was dispatched and crews used a hose reel jet to extinguish the fire.
Two bonfires in the South Kessock area of Inverness were located by crews. One appliance from Inverness was dispatched to the scene and crews used a knapsack sprayer and hose reel jet to extinguish the fire.
And at 8.45pm an unsupervised bonfire was reported in School Road, North Tolsta, Isle of Lewis. Tyres had been thrown onto the fire and left to burn. One appliance from Stornoway attended and extinguished the fire using a hose reel jet.
Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay, SFRS director of prevention and protection, said: “Over the weeks and months leading up to 5 November we called on people to help prevent needless incidents and ensure firefighters could quickly get to emergencies.
“By preventing bonfire-related incidents and helping to ensure our crews and their resources could quickly get where they were needed, responsible citizens have certainly played their part in protecting communities throughout Scotland.
“Along with our partners in the police and local authorities we have been actively working to raise awareness of the risks posed by fireworks and carless and poorly built bonfires.
“The fact is that every year these result in someone being hurt and the consequences for the person and their families can be devastating.
“Firefighters in every community are always ready to respond to emergencies and do whatever they can to save lives, but the sad reality is sometimes their very best efforts won’t be enough.
“We need the public’s help to prevent tragedies and so I would like to thank everybody who celebrated Guy Fawkes Night by going to an official event, as well as anyone who alerted local authorities to the build-up of bonfire materials.”
There were a small number of minor attacks on SFRS crews which included verbal abuse and missiles thrown at appliances, fortunately with no injuries or damage incurred. These included a single incident in the north and three in the west and two in the east.
ACO Boyle added: “Attacks on emergency responders are completely unacceptable and I am sure the public would be outraged by the small number of incidents where their firefighters have been targeted while working to protect people and property.
“Those responsible should know that the authorities take their mindless criminal actions extremely seriously and we work closely with police to ensure they are identified and held to account.”