Belfast Telegraph

Fire Service issue bonfire safety advice ahead of Eleventh night

By Claire Williamson

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service has urged bonfire builders to think "safety first" issuing advice ahead of the Eleventh night.

Last year the NIFRS attended 33 bonfire-related incidents on the Eleventh night which was nine more than in 2015.

In addition the NIFRS control centre dealt with 43 bonfire related 999 calls which was an increase of 12 from the previous year.

Among the advice issued is that bonfires should be well away from houses, garages, sheds, fences, overhead cables, trees and shrubs and kept to a manageable size.

It has issued a guide which says builders should allow a ratio of 1:5. The bonfire should be a minimum of five times its height from property. For example if the bonfire is 10 metres tall, it should be at least 50 metres from the nearest property.

It also advises constructors to build it so it is stable and will not collapse and that foam-filled furniture, tyres, aerosols, tins of paint or bottles should not be used.

Firefighters are not out to spoil anyone’s fun – their job is to protect life and property from fire. Fire chief

The NIFRS also advises that responsible adults should look after lighting the bonfire and before it is lit check that no children or pets are hiding inside.

And at any sign of danger, 999 should be called immediately.

Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Prevention and Protection said their main priority was keeping people safe and appealed directly to bonfire builders and community representatives to listen to their advice.

He said: "Bonfires should be kept at a manageable size and sited in a clear, open space at a safe distance from buildings and overhead cables.

"A bonfire should not contain any potentially hazardous materials or tyres and never use flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin as these can produce explosive vapours. The burning of tyres releases toxic fumes, which are harmful to the environment and also cause hazardous health conditions for those attending or living close to the bonfire.

“We are also asking the community for their support to ensure that if firefighters are called out to attend a bonfire it is because someone in the local community is concerned about their safety and has contacted us for help.  Firefighters are not out to spoil anyone’s fun – their job is to protect life and property from fire.  I’m asking the local community for their support to ensure that Firefighters are able to carry out their job without fear of attack or harassment.

“If your bonfire does get out of control, call 999 immediately and ask for the Fire and Rescue Service.”

Fire Service Bonfire Safety Advice:

  • Site the bonfire well away from houses, garages, sheds, fences, overhead cables, trees and shrubs
  • Bonfires should be kept to a manageable size
  • Build the stack so that it is stable and will not collapse
  • Never build a hut or a den inside a bonfire
  • Do not burn foam-filled furniture, tyres, aerosols, tins of paint or bottles
  • Responsible adults should look after lighting the bonfire. Before lighting the fire, check that no children or pets are hiding inside it
  • Never use flammable liquids (petrol or paraffin) to light the fire – use domestic firelighters
  • Keep everyone away from the fire – especially children who must be supervised at all times
  • For an emergency keep buckets of water, a garden hose or a fire extinguisher ready
  • At any sign of danger or in the event of an emergency ring Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service on 999 for assistance

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