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Do you really need to have that bonfire?

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service has been called to a significant number of fires in the open in 2020.

Our crews regularly respond to between 10 and 20 fires of this type every week. The majority of these are controlled bonfires. However, we have also been called to attend structural property fires – a number of which have resulted from a fire that originated outdoors.

Joanne Cook, Head of Community Safety, said: “During this unprecedented time of people spending more time at home, coupled with improving weather conditions, it is possible that there will be a temptation to start work on the garden or on home renovations.

“Both of these activities have a high likelihood of generating rubbish and waste. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus situation led to temporary closures of local waste management sites and reduced kerbside collections. This made it very difficult to dispose of any extra waste generated.

“Ideally we would ask people to avoid having a bonfire, and avoid undertaking an activity that is going to increase the amount of waste you have.

“If you do generate additional garden waste, compost the materials wherever possible, and if this is not an option, store it safely until garden waste collections return to normal.

“As a last resort, if you do decide to have a bonfire, please consider the following advice and guidance which will help reduce the risk of you having a fire related incident.”


Ideally garden waste should be composted or stored until garden waste collections return to normal.  If you are gardening and have garden waste to dispose of and do consider having a bonfire, remember:

  • Some parishes and local areas are designated smoke-free zones where bonfires are not permitted, so check first
  • Check the weather first. If it is windy, the smoke from a bonfire could blow dangerously across a road
  • Do not use flammable liquids to start the bonfire
  • Do not burn dangerous items of waste such as aerosol cans, paint tins, foam furniture or batteries
  • Do not leave a bonfire unattended. An adult must supervise the bonfire until it has burnt out
  • If the bonfire has to be left, damp it down with plenty of water to prevent it reigniting

Dumping waste/fly-tipping

Don’t be tempted to try to dump waste anywhere. Fly-tipping is illegal. The council will remove fly-tipped waste from public land, and if local Authorities are notified, they will take steps to trace the offender. If the waste is traced back to you, you face prosecution.

Jo added: “Fly-tipped rubbish is sometime set alight, and firefighters will often be called to extinguish the fire. We would rather be helping the public in other ways, especially at this time when there are so many people who need help as a result of Coronavirus.

“Please consider the consequences of your actions, and we would encourage you to report fly-tipping immediately if you discover it.”

For information on how to report fly-tipping, contact your local council.

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