Here’s how you can be considerate when lighting bonfires and barbecues this summer
With an increase in complaints sent to Chichester District Council (CDC) and a rise in call outs for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (WSFRS), here’s some advice on how to use fires safely.
When using disposable barbecues, the CDC urges people to:
- Use approved barbecue fuel or firelighters to light your barbecue, never petrol or paraffin
- Keep barbecues away from your house, shed, fences, garden furniture or overhanging trees
- Don’t leave your barbecue unattended at any time
- Empty any ash onto bare soil, not into a dustbin
- Place your barbecue on flat ground where it will not fall over
- If you are lighting a barbecue in the countryside or on the beach, check beforehand that it is an authorised area.
Disposable barbecues should be left to cool for several hours, and covered with plenty of cold water to ensure no risk of reignition.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said it has seen a sharp rise in the number of call-outs for deliberate fires. These fires often start as campfires or bonfires, spreading out of control, endangering others and cause serious harm, both to nature and people, as well as major property damage. These incidents also waste the time of essential services, such as the police and fire and rescue service.
Residents are encouraged to report evidence of any unsafe fires being started, even if they are already out, so that rescue services can monitor trends and work with local partners to reduce deliberate fires in the area.
Here’s its advice on preventing fires:
- Make sure cigarettes are put out properly and never throw them out of car windows
- Don’t be tempted to light a fire in the countryside
- Don’t leave glass bottles outside - not only can they hurt people and animals, they can also magnify the sun’s rays and start a fire
- Make sure fires are fully extinguished after use.
And the fire service said on bonfires:
- Build your bonfire away from sheds, fences and trees
- Avoid having a bonfire in windy conditions - it increases the likelihood of the fire spreading out of control
- Don’t leave your bonfire unattended
- Don’t leave any bonfire to smoulder when you have finished - make sure it is fully extinguished
- Don’t build it too big, and make sure it is stable.
Cllr Penny Plant, cabinet member for the environment at Chichester District Council said: “We always see an increase in the amount of complaints relating to smoke from fires around this time of year.
“This can be due to fire pits; burning garden waste; or, even using a disposable barbecue. We just want to remind people that this can sometimes cause issues for others, especially if they have a respiratory condition, and that excessive smoke can affect the air quality.
“It’s important to remember that if you do have garden waste that needs disposing of, to consider using the Household Waste Recycling Sites in the district, or our garden recycling scheme. Composting and recycling are always the preferred and more sustainable approach when handling waste.
“It’s also about remembering that if you do require a fire, to do this at a time when others aren’t out enjoying their garden, or when they have their washing out. Also, let your neighbours know in advance and only burn dry garden waste.
“Never burn anything that contains plastic, foam or paint and never leave a fire unattended. Bonfires can cause problems and if these occur regularly, the council is required to take enforcement action.”
Take care when placing disposable barbecues in kerbside collection bins at home as well, and avoid placing a cooled barbecue in a bin with any flammable liquids which could accelerate reignition.