Garden bonfires warning

Garden bonfires can easily become out of control

Gardeners are being advised to recycle their garden waste in a bid to reduce the number of out of control bonfires in Shropshire.

Firefighters attended more than 200 emergency calls which turned out to be garden bonfires last year.

"This places a drain on our valuable fire and rescue service resources with crews being called away from other important community fire safety and operational duties," said Sub Officer Dave Bartlett of the false alarm reduction team.

As the weather improves into the summer months, the number of gardens being given a facelift increases leading to householders disposing of their garden rubbish on a bonfire.

"We can offer a number of basic common sense rules that, if followed, can reduce the effect that garden waste fires cause".

These are:

Always try to recycle your garden waste rather than burning it. All local councils have facilities to either collect or dispose of grass cuttings, weeds, tree and bush clippings and other recyclable waste. Please contact them to find out what facilities are available in your area.

If you have to burn garden waste, do not build your bonfire close to neighbouring property or fences. To reduce the number of calls the fire and rescue service have to attend, please telephone their control room on 01743 260 200 and inform them of that you will be lighting a bonfire. You should include information on where and when it will be lit, so that in the event of a fire call, we can identify immediately if an emergency attendance is needed.

Never leave a bonfire burning unattended, and when you have extinguished it, telephone the fire and rescue again to confirm that it is out.

Never build a bonfire so big that it can get out of control. Keep it small and add your rubbish a little at a time. It is also useful to have a means of wetting the remains before you leave the fire to prevent unseen fire spread.

Never use a bonfire to dispose of flammable materials such as paint. You must also not place plastic, cellular foam or rubber products such as old tyres on a bonfire, and never try to start a bonfire using petrol or other flammable liquids.

Finally, have respect for your neighbours and their property. Smoke drifting across other people's gardens and into houses is not always welcome. If in doubt, talk to your neighbours to arrange a mutually agreeable time to burn your garden rubbish.

14th June, 2007