Skaters who strapped bangers to their boards and jumped over lit fireworks at The Level skatepark on Bonfire Night were risking serious injury to themselves and others, a fireman has warned.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s community safety manager Stephen Wright said that although fireworks were meant to be fun, an accident involving one could end up in skin grafts and horrendous pain.
And footage of the firework stunts on Saturday night have also drawn stiff criticism from members of the skating community after being posted on the Ride UK BMX page from riders who say this kind of behaviour risks having the park closed.
Mr Wright said: “The burns from a firework can be horrendous because of the high temperatures they burn at.
“If a skater falls on a firework it’s not going to go out, and the burns they could receive could be terrible. A deep burn from a firework would end in skin grafts and a long healing time.
“We would not condone this. Fireworks are great if they’re used in the right place by people who know how to use them – in the ground or a secure container, not strapped to skateboards.
“A firework in the wrong hands could cause fires and injuries to the user and members of the public, even to the point of causing a death if there are serious burns.
“We don’t want to spoil people’s fun, but they won’t find it funny if they end up in hospital with horrendous burns.”
One poster on the Ride UK BMX Facebook page said: “Good way to get your skatepark shut down. I’ve campaigned with councils for new skateparks and to prevent closure of existing skateparks. This s*** pisses me off.”
And another added: “We used to think it was hilarious to break into our local (private) skatepark at night and ride around. Wasn’t so funny when the park manager got so pissed he had the place bulldozed. Don’t be d***s.”
However, one skater who claimed to be involved in shooting the video defended his friends’ actions, saying: “One night of antisocial behaviour isn’t going to shutdown the level.
“If anything’s gunna shut down our skatepark it’s not a couple of fireworks lit off on November 5.
“Anyone know what it resembles? Guy Fawkes trying to change the system, the current system we’re in where there’s children starving to death, and this annoys you?”
Police said they were called to the area at about 6pm on Saturday night and monitored CCTV until the youths dispersed.
A Sussex Police spokesman said: “Shortly before 6pm on Saturday 5 November, police received reports of youths setting off fireworks at The Level skatepark in Brighton.
“CCTV in the area was monitored and the youths dispersed shortly afterwards.
“Sussex Police supports the safety advice as outlined by the Firework Code.”
Cllr Emma Daniel, chair of Brighton and Hove’s communities committee, said: “Young people need a space to have fun and keep fit but recently the skatepark has become a place where some people don’t feel safe.
“I am pleased that the police are prioritising the Level more to ensure that any criminal activities are dealt with.
“Skating is a daring sport and I can see from this video these young people are fearless in many ways. We need to encourage them to continue skating and having fun but we need to ensure that doesn’t become so risky people get hurt.”
The video comes just days after police issued a statement reassuring people they were addressing concerns of antisocial behaviour at the skatepark, with a new mobile CCTV camera installed to keep tabs on the area.
Issues the skatepark has struggled with include drug dealing and vandalism. In May this year, a 16-year-old drug dealer was given a 12-month rehabilitation order after punching a boy’s jaw so hard it broke in June last year.
Police and the council are now considering setting up a residents group to work with them to address these concerns.
Meanwhile, if anyone sees anti-social behaviour around The Level contact police by emailing email@example.com or ring 101. If it is a crime in action or an emergency dial 999.