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Dangers of fireworks highlighted by fire brigade and gardaí as Halloween approaches

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The damage done to a mannequin's hand after picking up an unexploded firework is shown at a fireworks awareness campaign. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The damage done to a mannequin's hand after picking up an unexploded firework is shown at a fireworks awareness campaign. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The damage done to a mannequins hand after picking up an unexploded firework is shown at a fireworks awareness campaign. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The damage done to a mannequins hand after picking up an unexploded firework is shown at a fireworks awareness campaign. Photo: Steve Humphreys

A fire safety demonstration showing the damage fireworks can cause to a child's hand. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos Dublin

A fire safety demonstration showing the damage fireworks can cause to a child's hand. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos Dublin

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The damage done to a mannequin's hand after picking up an unexploded firework is shown at a fireworks awareness campaign. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The injuries that fireworks can cause were highlighted today in a stark demonstration by Dublin Fire Brigade when they showed how a banger can blow the fingers off a hand.

The force of the blast from the common firework blew the thumb and finger off a model hand made of plaster to replicate what could happen to a child who is holding a firework when it explodes.

Speaking at the event at Dublin Fire Brigade’s Training Unit in Marino, Dublin, chief fire officer Dennis Keeley said that fireworks cause life-changing injuries every year and leave tremendous hardship and devastation in their wake.

“Promotion of firework public awareness is focused at this time of year when the evenings are closing in and Halloween approaches. It is at this time we generally see an increase in firework activity, and the all too familiar associated injuries.

"It is terrible to see the devastation that fireworks can do to the body. The tragedy is that we are likely to see more injuries, and these are so preventable,” he said.

Inspector Aonghus Hussey from the Garda National Community Engagement Unit said gardaí have now launched what it calls Operation Tombola to tackle the sale, supply and use of illegal fireworks.

Over €40,000 worth of fireworks was seized last year.

“One of the key messages we want to get across is the dangers for children with fireworks and the injuries they can cause, such as hand injuries, burn injuries, and damage to the eyes. So we would appeal to children to stay well away from fireworks. If they do see them on the ground or discarded not to pick them up they could still be live,” he said.

Insp Hussey also stressed that while it might be logistically easy to drive over the border into Northern Ireland and buy fireworks, they remain illegal in the Republic.

“The penalties can be anything up to €10,000 in fines or possibly five years in prison. They are severe penalties,” he said.

Over the Halloween period gardaí will be liaising with local authorities and the fire brigade to identify and remove stockpiled bonfire material and abandoned vehicles.

The effect of fireworks on animals and pets was also highlighted, especially because the Halloween celebrations seem to stretch over longer periods of days and weeks as each year goes by.

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“We put out the message every year of how distressing and frightening fireworks can be for our pets and other animals. We would also like to get the message out there to those considering acquiring these fireworks that they are illegal,” said Conor Dowling, Chief Inspector with the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

His advice to pet owners during fireworks season is to keep their animal in a quiet place indoors, where they can't escape from, and to offer a secluded cubby hole where they can retreat to if they are distressed.

“Distracting them with a bit of background noise and toys with treats can help. And also make sure that you're there to offer them comfort if they do become a bit distressed. What's of huge importance is to make sure that your pet is microchipped and registered so if something does happen and if it does get frightened or run off, it can be reunited with you later if found,” said Mr Dowling.

Justice Minister Heather Humphreys stressed that fireworks cause danger not just to young people, but older people and those living alone.

“When you think of what older people went through during Covid, out of respect for them alone we should not be setting off illegal fireworks,” she said.


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