Every year around November 5, the sky lights up in a flurry of bright colours and loud bangs that leave some people in awe. However, as the region has been treated to high temperatures and dry conditions the last few days, fire crews are worried.
Whangamata Volunteer Fire Brigade chief officer Nigel Airey said the team had a good run in previous years, but conditions were "tinder dry" compared with previous years. The risk of any spot fires lighting up was "huge", he said. He recommended that people use up all their fireworks tonight as opposed to saving them for later in the season as the risk will only get bigger, he said. He also asked people to use them on their own private property and not near the beachfront or dry scrub.
Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force chief fire officer Phil Muldoon said his crew had not had a Guy Fawkes callout for about six years, but the dry conditions had them "on tenterhooks".
Every year around Guy Fawkes they hold a huge community event alongside Blue Light Matatā with a firework display, sausage sizzle and bonfire. All donations from the event go towards the charity.
Matatā Volunteer Fire Brigade deputy chief Mark Hofert said this was a great way to bring the community together and have a safe and controlled environment for fireworks. He said it allowed the crews to manage the situation and it lowered the number of people letting off their own fireworks around the day.
He said the crew would still be on alert tonight as they were 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The annual event will take place this Friday from 6pm at the Matatā Village Green.
Used unsafely, fireworks can cause devastating bush fires. Follow these tips to reduce the risk of starting a fire when using fireworks:
- Don't light fireworks in windy or dry conditions.
- Carefully read and follow the manufacturer's instructions before using any fireworks.
- Light your fireworks in a wide-open area, away from anything that could catch fire.
- Keep a bucket of water, hose or fire extinguisher handy.
Be considerate with fireworks
- Do not use fireworks after 10.30pm, and try to let your neighbours know in advance.
- If you're in a rural area, make sure you do not set off fireworks around farm animals.
- If you do get burned, hold your burn under cold running water for 20 minutes.
- Keep your pets inside.