Quieter Bonfire Night this year but more still to be done

Fire crews were called to fewer incidents over the Bonfire weekend than in previous years, despite videos of attacks on emergency service workers circulating.


West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has reported that the number of call out crews attended on November 5 was down compared to recent years.

Attacks on emergency workers, including on police, have been shared across media channels today highlighting Bonfire night anti-social behaviour, nationally as well as locally.

In the run up to Bonfire night firefighters did have several incidents where they were attacked, but on the night, there were less than five attacks reported, which is much lower than predicted.

Fire prevention tactics have been hailed as the reason for this success.

The service has spent months collaborating with partner agencies in a bid to reduce the number of incidents over the busy bonfire weekend. WYFRS also had its #BanginBonfire campaign to help people across the region enjoy Bonfire Night safely.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said a multi-agency approach has helped reduce call outs:

“Bonfire night is a massive issue which takes a lot of resource,” he said. “But this is not just about what happens on this one night of the year - we have been talking about Bonfire night and planning for it since before the summer. As a fire service we work half the year on it, taking a multi-agency approach.

“A lot of what we do is working with partners including with the police, local authorities, youth workers and schools. We work together on prevention activity, as we know this works. We also have our fire protection team looking at licensing of fireworks and working with businesses.

“This year despite the high-profile incidents, we had a quieter Bonfire Night than we have seen in previous years. While we attended more incidents this weekend than we would have on a normal Saturday night, it was well below the numbers we have attended previously at this time of year. We believe this result can be correlated back to the targeted joint prevention work we do across the year, so we will continue to do this.”

The incidents attended on Saturday night showed there were four attacks against WYFRS firefighters, none however with any injuries reported. In the main this was fireworks being thrown at crews.

West Yorkshire Police and WYFRS worked together to introduce consequence cards in the run up to Bonfire night. These cards made it clear to those who may be intent on committing offences the impacts this would have on any future career path they may choose, encouraging them to choose wisely. There had been several such attacks in the weeks running up to Bonfire night, leading to the arrest of four youths on Friday. All have been bailed while enquiries are on-going into an attack on both a police vehicle and a fire vehicle in the Bradford Moor area.

Police have also made further arrests following disturbances in Leeds and Halifax this weekend.

“Sadly, some of the activity seen over the weekend nationally we have seen here in West Yorkshire,” added DCFO Walton. “This is not something anyone wants to see, and it is of course not acceptable for any emergency service worker to come under attack as they work to save lives and prevent danger.

“Yes, there were incidents this year, but attacks on firefighters were much lower than we have had before. We want to get to the point where no emergency service workers come under attack at all, and we will be working with our counterparts to continue to target those who commit such acts. We need to understand what is making people choose to do this, so we can aim to successfully change behaviours.”

Assistant Chief Constable Scott Bisset, of West Yorkshire Police, said:

“The Bonfire Night period is always a busy time for the police and our emergency services colleagues. This year was no exception.

“Unfortunately, there were some isolated incidents reported to us during the course of Saturday evening with some people determined to use the occasion as an opportunity for anti-social behaviour and disorder. This includes attacks on emergency services.

“Fireworks, when used irresponsibly, can be a very dangerous weapon and when they are directed at people and property, they can pose a significant risk to life.

“Over 30 arrests were made on Saturday alone. We won't tolerate this behaviour and where we obtain further evidence we will pursue those responsible.”  

“We condemn any attacks on emergency services colleagues. Any reports of attacks on them will be investigated in full.

“I would like to thank the vast majority of West Yorkshire residents who celebrated safely and made the most of the organised events that were held across the county.

“Over the course of the two-day period, our Customer Contact Centre took over 3,400 calls to 999 and 4,000 calls to the 101 service, both a slight increase on last year.

“Our call handlers were kept busy throughout the period and we are appreciative to all members of the public who contacted us to provide information about anti-social and criminal behaviour during this time.”

“We will be reviewing the information and making further enquiries into any offences reported to us over the coming days.”