HM Government state that: ‘There are no laws against having a bonfire, but there are laws for the nuisance they can cause’. However, ‘burning of domestic waste is not permitted if the waste will cause pollution or harm to people’s health’ and this includes setting fire to it on Bonfire Night. Also, ‘the person holding the Bonfire can be fined if when lit the smoke from the fire drifts across a road and becomes a danger to traffic’. This is not about spoiling one’s fun, it is about public safety and not having fun at someone else’s expense. Durham City Fire Service will doubtless have their busiest night of the year and will be hoping for common sense to prevail.
Some issues that need to be taken into account are as follows:
- Make sure that if the fire is to be held on someone else’s property you have their permission well before Bonfire night.
- Bonfires need to be planned well in advance, taking into account issues of smoke and pollution as mentioned, plus weather conditions, prevailing winds etc.
- Keep the Bon Fire and the people attending separate, that goes for fireworks too. Have one person in charge, in a word get organised.
- Store the material to be burned away from the Bonfire Site and only assemble it shortly before it is due to be lit, animals and small children have been known to hide inside them, and silly people have been known to light someone else’s fire a day or so early.
- Avoid using flammable liquids, and gas canisters, the risk is far too great.
- Do not place the kindling inside the fire stack until the last minute.
- Do not allow people to throw fireworks, discarded fireworks (duds) may explode if thrown onto the fire.
- Avoid burning old furniture that may containing plastic foam or materials that may be toxic when burned – and inhaled.
- Remember to clear up after. If the fire is in your garden, at the very least it is a safety hazard.
- Always have buckets of water, and/or fire extinguishers to hand as a safety precaution. If it is a large organised fire, make sure there are equipped and trained First Aiders handy.
Finally, have a great time, safely.