Why Fireworks are Outdated in 2020 and it’s Time for Change

Over the years, the rights of those who are badly impacted by others’ actions have gradually improved. The rights of the majority are not more important than those of the minority. Mental health rights, disabilities rights, animal rights, equality rights. We still have a long way to go, but in today’s society versus 100 years ago, it is far more accepted that we quite rightly consider the needs of those who are partially sighted, who have dementia, who suffer from PTSD, animals’ rights who can’t speak for themselves. Even the rights of the environment, nature and its impact on our future. There are rules against anti-social behaviour that impacts others, against noise that is not good and often distressing for others. We are also aware of the costs of our emergency services.

And yet. Here we have it. We – in the UK – and not in many European countries I hasten to add – continue to allow people who want a ‘bit of fun’, to let off noisy, dangerous fireworks – whenever they like pretty much – apart from past someone’s considered late bedtime. Every single day of the year. So much so that many people who suffer from PTSD can be immensely distressed, taken back to their original trauma, trembling, sweating – just because someone has the right to let off a firework ANY DAY OF THE YEAR. No warning for the person who suffers from PTSD. Bang. Off it goes. From nowhere. How cruel, how unkind. You can read examples from people who contacted us regarding how it impacted them and their loved ones. In the past, shockingly, shellshock and any mental health issues were a stigma and people coming back from war did not get the support they deserved from society. That was the past. We know better now and should be showing more respect to those adversely affected by fireworks. There are alternative ways to ‘have fun’, so that these people can stay in peace.

The government argues there is enough legislation. Really?! They are not considering the rights or the voices of these people, animals and the environment. The government doesn’t want to deny the rights of people to let off a firework. Yet what about protecting the rights of not only PTSD sufferers, but many people with dementia, autism, hyperacusis (hearing sensitivity), people who want to enjoy a peaceful evening and a good night’s sleep, as well as animals, their owners and the environment?

Many partially sighted or blind people rely on their dogs to guide them and yet, how much do we consider their rights, by allowing these to go off at any time? Many of their dogs are badly impacted as this blog highlights – substantially affecting the ability of their owner to get around and live life normally.

We are now acutely aware of the climate crisis and 85% of us concerned about it. Yet we let these fireworks, with toxic fumes and gasses out into the air. The toxins and chemicals are damaging to the environment, the packaging lands somewhere, the chemicals go into rivers. You can smell the air after a firework has gone off. It’s not good. Your gut knows that is toxic. Imagine birds and other smaller animals, with far smaller lungs. There are also reports that show that people are affected by this polluted air.

Wildlife suffers. Swans in Prague were reported to have died from fireworks, so thankfully, fireworks were banned there. Our pets suffer. So many pet owners dread fireworks, as they have to stay in to protect their loved ones from the terrifying effect of fireworks. So much so that Classic FM does a programme on bonfire night, to play calming music for dogs. The trouble is we need it many more nights of the year. About half of pets are known to suffer because of them. And it affects the stress of their owners and their lives too. Animals’ hearing is more sensitive than humans and often the noise can be very painful for them, as many animal charities confirm and support the need for a change in the law.

If you look at the cost of fireworks to the emergency services, this article by the London Fire Brigade explains there were 900 callouts in London alone in 2019 fireworks season. “Last year, we attended more than 900 incidents over the Halloween and Bonfire night period – 25th October to 8th November 2018. There were 43 fires started by stray fireworks, including one which caused a fire that damaged the roof of a Hornsey pub. Bonfire night is traditionally one of the busiest nights for incidents no matter the day that it falls on. Last year London’s firefighters attended 117 separate incidents on November 5th.” The costs of this financially just for the fire callouts, not the damage? This article explains, “It is common for two fire engines to be sent to an emergency call, each carrying about five firefighters at a cost of about £100 per person and £500 per vehicle.” So that’s 5 firefighters at £100 each, making £500. So £1,000 per vehicle, including 5 firefighters and 2 vehicles needed. So £2,000 per callout that could have been going somewhere else. Multiply that by the 900 callouts in London is £1.8 million. In London alone! The cost around the country must be horrendous! And the impact to the NHS: “According to figures from NHS Digital, there were almost 2,000 occasions of people going to A&E linked to fireworks in 2018/19.” We need the NHS for other things at the moment and any time. We need the money to be spent elsewhere… we all know that.

I think you get the point. It’s inconsiderate. It’s outdated because it’s not fair to let off fireworks whenever you like, just because of some outdated notion that some people can make a noise at the expense and to the detriment of others – be they people, animals or the environment. There is a debate in parliament on 2nd November 2020. Write to your MP and tell them your views and ask them to be present at the debate.