People are being discouraged from setting deliberate garden fires, in an effort to curb the number of bonfire call-outs faced by the Fire Service.
In recent months, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) has attended a high number of bonfire-related incidents.
In some of these fires, firefighters have stepped in to extinguish a blaze seen to be ‘out of control’. On these occasions, it is judged that residents would not be able to put the fire out safely themselves or that the blaze is at risk of spreading dangerously.
In some circumstances, firefighters have been called to bonfires which are still technically under control. In these cases, owners may have become afraid they wouldn’t be able to put the fire out, or smoke from a fire has prompted a neighbour to become concerned and ring 999. In these situations, the Fire Service is called out but no action is taken.
The recent good weather and the fact that many people are still staying home more than usual means that more gardening and DIY work has been undertaken.
Although bonfires are not banned in Northamptonshire, NFRS is urging the public to avoid using fire to burn waste as it often leads to avoidable call-outs – which could mean vital services are redirected from other potential emergencies.
Prevention Team Leader Darren Carson said: “With the Household Waste Recycling Centres now open again, we would encourage people to either use these or find composting and storage alternatives to burning.
“We always want people to ring the Fire Service when they are worried about a fire that could be out of control – and this includes bonfires. But people can prevent avoidable fires by opting for waste disposal methods other than burning.
“Although bonfires aren’t officially banned anywhere, we do want people to understand the impact their decision to have a bonfire can have on the emergency services, and also to neighbours for whom smoke is often a nuisance and a worry.”
In the last three months, fires have included one incident in which a shed, fencing, a trampoline and hedgerow were damaged by fire. Another blaze resulted in damage to a workshop and, in a separate incident, a stray ember is believed to have ignited a summerhouse.
Smoke billowing from bonfires can create air pollution and cause issues for people suffering from some health conditions. Local borough and district councils will take action where smoke from bonfires is causing nuisance to neighbouring properties, so people are urged to show consideration.
People should also be aware that household waste can be unsafe to burn and can give off toxic fumes. Items such as aerosols and plastics should not be burnt. Other rubbish inappropriate for burning includes paint tins and tyres.
If anyone is concerned about a neighbour having repeated bonfires, please make contact with your local or district council for advice.