herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Firefighters prepare for busiest time of year and 'dark side of Halloween'

A firefighter puts out a fire on Basin Lane in Dublin
A firefighter puts out a fire on Basin Lane in Dublin

Dublin Fire Brigade is gearing up for its busiest night of the year tonight.

Firefighters working across the capital are bracing for between 600 and 700 calls to their control centres.

On October 31 and November 1 last year, the brigade responded to 565 calls - the average number of call-outs is 392 over 48 hours at any other time of year.

Ambulances were called 397 times while fire units were deployed 168 times.

The city centre is the busiest area for ambulance and fire brigade calls.

"We're reaching out to people to say it's a very exciting time, everyone really enjoys it, but unfortunately in the fire service you start to see the dark side of Halloween - and I don't mean the ghosts," District Officer David Kavanagh said.

"For us it's the aftermath in the injuries that occurs in both children and adults due to using illegal fireworks and illegal bonfires."

Lost fingers and limbs are common injuries during the Halloween period, he added.

Explodes

"The danger is that the rocket often explodes in their hands as well and people can lose a limb from that," he said.

People's costumes catching fire due to fireworks or bonfires is another hazard.

Mr Kavanagh had simple advice for anyone attending a bonfire, particularly in costume, which can ignite even without direct contact with a flame.

"If you're standing close enough that you can feel your face getting warm you are standing too close to the bonfire," he said.

The brigade is encouraging people to attend official events and to stay safe.

If there is an illegal bonfire taking place, parents are advised to attend in order to keep things under control.

On top of the large volume of calls on the night, Halloween is often a time when fire officers are subjected to a hostile welcome when they arrive on the scene.

Officers were pelted this week with stones as they attended a bonfire at Basin Street flats.

Mr Kavanagh acknowledged that it was "hard to believe" that people would react to fire staff in that way.

"The only time we come into an area is when we get a phone call and there is somebody in trouble, so we are only ever coming in to help," he said. "You get a minority who think we're killjoys and that we're coming in to spoil their fun.

"If a truck gets damaged because the windscreen's been stoned, we lose an engine, so if there's an emergency we lose a fire engine and people could actually lose their lives because of someone's stupidity."

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