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Crews braced for Halloween bonfire chaos

FIRE crews are bracing themselves for as many as 700 calls about illegal bonfires and fireworks-related injuries on Halloween.

Greg O'Dwyer, Third Officer at Dublin Fire Brigade, said Halloween night sparks a massive rise in emergencies, particularly in deprived areas of the city, due to unsupervised and illegal bonfires and fireworks.

In 2008, firemen were pelted with stones and had a fire-engine seriously damaged when they attended a Halloween bonfire, and one fireman was almost blinded by the attack.

Greg told the Herald: "Sometimes people don't want us to put out the fires and they can turn nasty on the crews. If we do have to go into an area like that, we'll rely on the guards to go in with us if it's dangerous."

"People can break into properties and set fire to them. And also we've had incidences where people drive cars onto bonfires which is extremely dangerous.

"We get a lot of alcohol -related assault cases, and unfortunately with younger children we get fire and fireworks- related injuries. Some of them can be very nasty."

Fire crews liaise with gardai and HSE ambulances during the night, and often they will not enter an area until gardai arrive first.

"It's four or five times busier than an average Saturday night. We get several hundred calls, anything in the region of between 400 and 700."

Dublin City Council has been visiting schools around the city and holding educational days to warn children about dangers.

"We've had several injuries with fireworks going off in their pockets and children losing hands and fingers.

"There are more organised bonfires every year now, and we promote the message to the school kids to stay safe and we tell them about the properly organised bonfires happening around the city with fun and games."