Fireworks, love them or hate them, they now seem to be a year-round occurrence. Julie Doorne has been highlighting across social media, how this issue affects horse owners, and is campaigning for change to help keep us all safe.
When I was a child, we used to look forward to ‘bonfire night’ and the jacket potatoes, the sparklers, and Dad in the garden lighting the fireworks one at a time, allowing the audience to really appreciate the ‘Sparkling Fairy Dust’ or ‘Shooting Stars’. Taking them carefully from the biscuit tin and replacing the lid each time, as directed on the government information films. Remember, remember, when it was JUST the 5th of November? Oh, those were the days!
Fireworks now are a whole different ball game. There are cakes, barrages, mines and multi-shots - a new breed of firework, which are boxes of fireworks that only need one point of ignition. Light the blue touch paper and retire to a safe distance, to hear 60 shots (bangs) in 13 seconds. Is it any wonder that our animals become distressed? These barrages sometimes come out of nowhere. Maybe your neighbours are very considerate and let you know they are having a firework party in June? Maybe they don’t? Maybe they haven’t let the old lady down the street know, and now she thinks she is back in the blitz!
Some people really like fireworks, the louder the better and maybe I am a party pooper. I get all fired up about this subject and perhaps I shouldn’t, but I have heard such awful stories!
In 2014, I heard of two incidents in which friends' horses were put to sleep due to injuries sustained during unexpected fireworks. Then another friend who owns a stud, lost 2 foals, the mares aborted due to fireworks inducing stress. I had heard enough! I started a petition and the FAB firework abatement campaign was born out of that first petition. First, it was very much focused towards animals (horses being my first love), however, over the last 4yrs I have heard many stories of how random, unexpected firework use affects not only animals but people, who to date, have yet to be heard.
Although my campaign runs solely on social media, with no national newspaper or TV coverage, an estimated 750,000 people have signed the 3 petitions that have been debated in Parliament. The Change.org petition has attracted 374,000 signatures, and it is still climbing. I am sure this is a drop in the ocean, as not everyone (believe it or not) is active on social media.
The FAB campaign has never been about banning the use of fireworks, but about adopting a common-sense approach between those people who enjoy fireworks, and those whose lives (either theirs or their pets) are severely affected by unexpected displays. Unlike the government, I don’t believe 365 days of use versus 0 days free of use, is a fair and equitable balance.
Firework availability in the UK is now driven by advertising, all-year-round internet sales and high street stores dedicated to the sales of fireworks. The current firework regulations are no longer effective for the control of firework use. As long ago as 2004, the government spoke about “curtailing the creeping expansion of the season”. In the past 15 years, I believe it has crept far enough. Indeed it has moved to such a degree that the peak season now stretches from October to January. Use outside these months is not uncommon either.
So, fireworks…love them or hate them, I hope and believe that change is coming.
The Government Petitions Committee has opened an inquiry. The inquiry will lead to a report with recommendations to the Government. The report will be debated in the House of Commons and the Government will have to respond to the Committee's recommendations.
If you would like to give us your experiences or thoughts and support the campaign, you can find us on Facebook or Twitter - FAB firework abatement campaign. The change.org petition is still live, and I would really appreciate more signatures.
Update from Julie July 2020: