Fire chief makes appeal over bonfires

NIFRS attended 16 bonfire-related incidents last night
NIFRS attended 16 bonfire-related incidents last night

Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (N.I.F.R.S.) is urging people to act responsibly and to stay safe when building or attending bonfires.

Last year, fire fighters attended 24 bonfire related incidents on the 11th night (6pm July 11 to 8am July 12), which is 27 less bonfire related incidents attended on the same night in 2014.

N.I.F.R.S. Assistant Chief Fire Officer Alan Walmsley said: “Firstly, it is very encouraging that fire fighters dealt with a 53 per cent reduction in the number of bonfire related incidents compared to 12 months previously. I must commend the continued engagement at local level between community leaders and N.I.F.R.S. personnel in helping to decrease the number of bonfire related incidents across Northern Ireland.

N.I.F.R.S. plays a central role in protecting our community and we want people to be safe, act responsibly and use common sense when building and attending bonfires. They can easily get out of control if they are not built safely and properly supervised.”

Assistant Chief Walmsley advised anyone taking part or organising a bonfire this year to do so safely.

“Our advice is that bonfires should be kept at a manageable size and sited in a clear, open space at a safe distance from buildings and overhead cables. A bonfire should be a minimum distance of five times its height from property. It should not contain any potentially hazardous materials or tyres and never use flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin as these can produce explosive vapours.

“We would appeal to the bonfire builders and community representatives to stop using tyres on bonfires. The burning of tyres releases toxic fumes, which are harmful to the environment and also cause hazardous health conditions for those attending or living close to the bonfire.”

He added: “We are working closely with our statutory partner agencies including Police Service of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to help keep people safe when attending bonfires.

“If you are attending a bonfire on the 11th night and see your local fire fighters, it’s because someone in the area is concerned and has contacted us for help. Fire fighters are not out to spoil anyone’s fun – their job is to protect life and property from the dangers of fire. I’m asking the local community for their support to ensure that fire fighters are able to carry out their job without fear of attack or harassment.

“If your bonfire gets out of control, call 999 immediately and ask for the Fire & Rescue Service.”

N.I.F.R.S. Assistant Chief Fire Officer Alan Walmsley. Photo: Presseye.

N.I.F.R.S. Assistant Chief Fire Officer Alan Walmsley. Photo: Presseye.