Bonfires lead to hundreds of calls to firefighters

Fire officers say that thousands of hours a year are wasted on calls about small bonfires in gardens, building sites and farmland across West Yorkshire.

Thousands of hours a year are wasted on calls about small bonfires

Area manager, Scott Donegan at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) says that if people call them to inform them a fire is being lit, it will stop firefighters attending false alarms where they are not required.

Recent figures show that hundreds of calls are being made about bonfires and controlled burning, wasting thousands of hours every year for WYFRS. In the financial year 2020 to 2021 there were 1,600 incidents, and the following year there were 1,190. So far since April this year there have been 800 call outs to small fires in gardens, farms and building sites which don’t require the attendance of the fire service.

AM Donegan said each incident takes about 90 minutes and is the equivalent of 60 full days being wasted each year. “As we approach bonfire night we urge the public to only contact us if there is an emergency,” he said. “This is one of the busiest times of the year for us and there are a few things people can do to ensure we aren’t called out unnecessarily.

“Anyone that is thinking of having a bonfire, or is doing controlled burning on farmland or building sites, should get in touch with us. This means if we receive a 999 call reporting a fire in that area we know we won’t have to respond. If everyone did this it would save us thousands of hours every year, meaning we are available to react quickly to serious incidents, where someone’s life could be in danger and undertake more risk reduction work.

It is important that anyone having a bonfire follows our guidance to ensure they stay as safe as possible.”

Tell WYFRS when you’re having a bonfire by calling on 01274 682311.

Six steps to having a safe bonfire:

1, If you must have a bonfire, use a metal incinerator to contain it, and locate it well away from anything flammable. This includes trees, long dry grass, sheds, houses, garages and cars. Make sure it is not underneath any electricity cables.

2, Follow our advice on what you shouldn’t burn – see below.

3, Tell us when you’re having a bonfire by calling on 01274 682311. This is so we can check in with you if we receive any 999 calls reporting a fire in the same area, which stops us from sending firefighters out to bonfires when they’re not needed.

4, Stay with your bonfire at all times. Keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby and have a way of calling for help in case of emergencies, such as your mobile phone.

5, Keep pets and children at a safe distance away from the bonfire and never leave them alone with a burning fire.

6, Make sure the fire is completely out before you leave it. When the bonfire is finishing, spray it with water to stop it from restarting. The embers can stay hot for a long time so make sure it’s cool before you leave it unattended.

What not to burn:

1, Fuel, such as petrol, diesel or paraffin.

2, Household rubbish, especially plastics.

3, Aerosol cans

4, Lighter fluid

5, Tyres

6, Fireworks

7, Gas canisters

8, Foam

9, Paint

10, Anything wet