Illegal backyard fireworks a nightmare for dogs

Warrnambool RSPCA shelter supervisor Janita McLeod encourages dog owners to secure their pets tonight. 141230AS22 Picture: AARON SAWALL

LOCALS keen to celebrate New Year’s Eve with illegal backyard fireworks are being urged to rethink their plans.

The Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA), the Country Fire Authority and the RSPCA have each warned of the risks posed by fireworks.

Workcover said people using fireworks illegally face fines of up to $14,761. Its health and safety acting executive director Shane Gillard said fireworks had been banned from use by the general public since 1982 for good reason.

“They can cause serious injury and death,” Mr Gillard said.

Mr Gillard said only licensed pyrotechnicians were allowed to set off fireworks in Victoria.

“Licensed pyrotechnicians understand the dangers associated with fireworks. They know the size of exclusion zones required before fireworks can be set off, they understand the physical risks associated with handling fireworks, and they take into account other factors such as the weather conditions and fire risk information from local emergency services.”

Mr Gillard said WorkCover seized more than eight tonnes of illegal fireworks and flares during 2014.

CFA chief officer Euan Ferguson said illegal fireworks and dry grass were a bad combination.

“Fires started by illegal fireworks can spread quickly, threatening lives and homes within minutes,” Mr Ferguson said.

RSPCA Warrnambool shelter supervisor Janita McLeod said it received several dogs each year that had run away after being scared by the noise of New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Ms McLeod urged pet owners to make sure their pets were secure tonight to prevent them escaping.

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