Whithorn firefighters have been banned by their bosses from putting on their annual community bonfire and fireworks display at the town’s fire station next weekend because they are not trained to handle fireworks.
There was outrage at the monthly meeting of Whithorn Community Council last night when the news broke that the annual display, scheduled for Saturday, November 8, had been cancelled after Scottish Fire and Rescue chiefs stopped local fire fighters from running the popular event due to health and safety concerns.
Mid Galloway Councillor Alistair Geddes hit out at the attitude of the Fire and Rescue “martinets” who took the decision to end the well-organised and well-supported fireworks display. He said such high-handed action would be counter-productive as he now feared a return to unauthorized bonfires in the town which would raise more pressing heath and safety issues.
In previous years the now defunct Dumfries and Galloway Fire Service sanctioned the event but Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Area Manager Alan Fairbairn stopped this year’s event on Wednesday because the fire service “had no public liability insurance”; the fire service staff in Whithorn “were not trained / equipped to organise and facilitate such events; that fire cover in the event of an emergency would be compromised and there was no provision in place for first aid”.
The plug was also pulled so late in the day that it left the community council no time to get an alternative event in place.
Earlier in the day a statement form the Whithorn Fire and Rescue crew stated: “It is with regret that due to circumstances out of our control we have had to cancel our bonfire and firework display that was due to take place on Saturday 8th November
Over our time hosting this event we have experienced a fabulous 10 years providing a service to you all,,,,you , our local community.
“We have seen well over 3,000 people come and go within that period. We have watched the kids over the years running around in a safe environment enjoying the pleasures the fireworks gave. Funnily we grew with those kids, just as the children grew we did too - our fireworks displays improved year on year gaining recognition throughout our local area. We can’t forget the support we also received from both our local community council and our local Lions Club - your support has been second to none.
We must also thank the former Dumfries and Galloway Fire and Rescue Service who were fully supportive of our event over the past nine years!!
“As mentioned in previous post, we assigned a task to our four local schools; Portwilliam, Whithorn, Garlieston and Kirkinner. We tasked them to design and make a guy for us with the winning school receiving £50. We feel that it would be fitting to donate £50 to each of those schools as a gesture for the support you have shown us over the years. We can only apologise for not managing to showcase your hard work.
“Finally, we hope you all enjoy Guy Fawkes Night and go to an organised event as per the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service recommendations!”