SURREY/DELTA — Halloween…
For police, firefighters, paramedics and bylaws officers, it’s the scariest night of the year.
They’ll no doubt be praying for rain.
Seeing as Halloween lands on a Saturday this year, there’s a bonus considering that with Daylight Savings Time, clocks will be set back one hour from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday.
“So we’ve got an extra hour of shenanigans to deal with,” Surrey RCMP Cpl. Scotty Schumann sighed.
Last year, Surrey RCMP received 25 per cent more calls on Halloween night than it did the year before.
“In fact, one third of those were for fireworks,” Schumann noted.
“If you need to call the RCMP on Halloween night regarding misuse of fireworks, we ask that you call the non-emergency number.” That number is 604-599-0502. For emergencies, of course, call 911.
Fireworks are banned in the City of Surrey unless you have a proper permit. That means you’re not allowed to possess, light or sell them without a permit and if you do, and get caught, fines can range from $250 to $500. Surrey city bylaw officer Sukh Maghera, said hundreds of firecrackers — roughly $15,000 worth — have been seized over the past few weeks and roughly $3,000 in fines have been levied.
Dr. Craig Murray, head of Surrey Memorial Hospitals Emergency Room, warns that sparklers are the number one cause of burns suffered by children.
“These are highly avoidable injuries,” he said. “We see many fireworks injuries at Surrey Memorial Hospital in both adults and children. Fireworks should not be thought of as toys, but devices that can cause cause serious burns and injuries to fingers, hands, the face and eyes.”
On Tuesday the B.C. RCMP’s Explosive Disposal Unit brought Murray’s message home by blowing up a plywood hand with a thing called an Air Banger, at Joe Brown Park. It took a while to find the splinters.
According to the Surrey Fire Fighters Association, city firefighters fought a record high of 40 fireworks-related fires in 2004 and have seen an average of roughly three such fires every year since 2005. Provincial government statistics for 2013 indicate that 22 fireworks-related fires resulted in $75,000 damage.
In 1999, Surrey’s L’Ecole Gabrielle Roy in Guildford was burned to the ground with napalm on Halloween night, totaling $6 million in damage and displacing 315 elementary and high school students. This wasn’t an accident, but an arson.
This Halloween night, the Surrey RCMP and Delta Police are beefing up their patrols.
“We have a large number of extra police officers assigned that night,” Schumann said. “There’s going to be a lot of police.”
The RCMP helicopter will be watching from above, and officers will be pulled from sections other than general duty and traffic, to help. Others will be working overtime, and 20 auxiliary police will be volunteering their time as well.
Delta will send out its Halloween Patrol on Friday and Saturday night, comprised to police, firefighters, municipal staff and volunteers from CUPE Local 454. They’ll be keeping an eye on parks and schools. Also, in an effort to increase public safety, Delta will be leaving the lights on at sports fields and recreation facilities overnight tonight, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
“The Halloween Patrol is a well coordinated effort and another great example of staff working together to help reduce vandalism and protect our community property,” Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said. Delta Police ask anyone spotting suspicious activity to call them at 604-946-4411.
In Delta you may not possess fireworks unless you are over 19 years old and hold a valid $200 fireworks permit from the Delta fire department.
Meanwhile, here’s a few Safety Tricks for Halloween night:
– Wear reflective clothing or tape so motorists can see you, and carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.
– Stay on the sidewalks and off the streets.
– Set a curfew time for older children
– Cross streets at intersections and look both ways before crossing.
– Motorists, slow down!