Importance Of Safety At Bonfires Highlighted

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Public Safety Minister Michael McGimpsey stressed the importance of behaving responsibly around bonfires.

In the run-up to the Twelfth of July, the minister met with Robert Saulters, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland to call for respect for emergency workers, including the Fire and Rescue Service. The minister also drew attention to the need for safe practises at bonfire sites and to the dangers of binge drinking.

Mr McGimpsey said: “Bonfires are an important part of the Twelfth celebrations but they have to be planned properly with a responsible adult in charge of the site. It’s also vital that children should not be allowed anywhere near the fire itself.

“If anything does go wrong it’s important that the Fire Service is contacted. However, remember that our firefighters put their lives on the line every day to save lives in their communities. By attacking them, there is a very real risk that a firefighter will be injured or equipment may be damaged, resulting in a fire engine not being available for a real emergency.

The minister also addressed the issue of binge drinking and said: “Alcohol remains a major public health issue in Northern Ireland; we know the wide range of problems that can occur when it is misused and consumed irresponsibly, and I remain committed to reducing the overall level of alcohol-related harm in Northern Ireland.

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“My message over the Twelfth celebrations is clear - enjoy yourselves but it is important to stay safe. Don’t drink excessively and don’t attack firefighters – you will only be putting yourself and others in danger.”

Robert Saulters, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, said he was delighted to be associated with the initiative.

"Bonfires are a very important of the Protestant culture. The Orange Order does not build the bonfires but we work very closely with the community organisations who do.

"It is terrific that so many people enjoy the bonfires, but they must always remember about their own safety and the safety of others.

"We want people to enjoy an important part of their tradition but ensure that the events are safe, friendly and enjoyable for all the family and people who live in the area."

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said: “The police service has been working as part of a multi-agency approach to reduce the number of incidents and increasing public safety around bonfire sites.

“We encourage everyone to ensure all bonfires are safe, and are of no threat to life or property.”

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