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Feature


FSM


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These incidents have taken place in spite


of the Premier League, Football League and The FA launching an initiative to educate supporters on the dangers of pyrotechnics at football grounds. This highlights the risks of flares that are used as distress signals and are designed specifically not to be extinguished easily or quickly. They contain chemicals and burn at temperatures of 1600ºc or more, which is the melting point of steel. Smoke bombs also burn at high temperatures but they are designed to be used in wide open spaces and can be particularly dangerous for sufferers of asthma or breathing difficulties due to the smoke inhalation. Both can also cause widespread panic within a tightly packed crowd, which can have devastating


consequences. There also seems to be a propensity for pyrotechnics to be thrown, as the users themselves panic and this can again create a multitude of issues for stadium and security staff as well as the emergency services on hand. Particularly in cases in foreign stadia in recent years flares have been the cause of severe burn injuries and even death and this is something we are desperate to avoid. Despite the safety risks and the Sporting


Events Control of Alcohol Act 1985 making it a criminal offence for a person to have in their possession any firework, flare or smoke bomb whilst attempting to enter a stadium in the UK we are still seeing an increase in use with over half of fans surveyed having witnessed pyrotechnics at a match. A 2014 survey involving 1,635 Premier League supporters found 36% have been directly affected: 24% have had their view of the match obscured, 10% have suffered from smoke inhalation and 2% have been affected by heat from a flare or smoke bomb. In October a woman in her 60’s was


injured when she was hit in the throat by a flare thrown during the non-league clash


between Stourbridge and Halesowen and in early November during a televised FA Cup match between Hyde United and MK Dons was almost postponed when a fan launched a flare onto the artificial pitch. This immediately set fire to the plastic based synthetic surface causing significant damage and an ensuing panic in the stadium. A supervisor was on hand to quickly diminish the blaze but the kick off was delayed by fifteen minutes and the flare created a significant hole in the Ewen Fields pitch. In spite of these incidents, statistics and


the threat of a criminal conviction it is still seen by a minority of away supporters in particular as the best way to impress and create atmosphere is to smuggle flares or smoke bombs into an opposition stadium. Despite the evident risks and increased security checks it is almost becoming fashionable within some away followings to search for ingenious methods of secretion of such devices, even to the extent of using children as ‘pyro-mules’ in order to by-pass checks. In October all 72 EFL clubs signed up to a Continued on page 20


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