Scottish Tories propose powers to search for fireworks

The Scottish Conservatives are to pledge extra protection for emergency workers '“ including the powers to search for fireworks.

Bonfire Night is meant to be fun  but last year an Edinburgh fire chief said he feared for his crews safety. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Liam Kerr MSP is to announce a range of proposals designed to improve staff safety at a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service control centre in Dundee.

Proposals include giving police the power to search for fireworks, tougher sentences for offences against emergency staff and ensuring responders have equipment to keep them from harm.

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Mr Kerr said: “The importance of our emergency workers simply cannot be underestimated.

“They work in the worst of conditions to help people experiencing the most terrifying of situations.

“Following my seeing, first hand, the intense pressure that our emergency workers operate within each time they go to work, I would like to demonstrate the Scottish Conservatives’ commitment to these crucial services.

“I firmly endorse the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service campaign ‘Do Not Attack Me’ and reiterate that any attempts to harm fire crews should not be tolerated.

“This initial package of targeted policies would give emergency workers additional support as they undertake their vital work.”

He added: “It is fundamental that all our emergency services have the right equipment to keep them safe and the legal support to keep others safe.

“It is also vital that those who attack emergency services staff feel the enhanced force of the law.”

The call comes on Bonfire Night, which is the emergency workers’ busiest time of year and has seen staff face disorder.

An experienced firefighter yesterday told of his constant fear for his crew’s safety on Bonfire Night after experiencing a “warzone”.

Last year there were a number of incidents involving disorder and fire-starting, one of which resulted in serious injury to a police officer in Edinburgh, as well as lots of property damage.

Watch manager Glynn McAffer said his crew was among those to be targeted with aggression.

He added: “It was like a war zone when we arrived, and my first thought was: ‘I’m not going in there.’

“I had no other choice but to call our operations control and inform them that we required a police presence to ensure the safety of our firefighters.”

Crews responded to around 330 bonfires across Scotland between 5pm and 10pm that night, while operations control received more than 800 calls.