Safety warning for Twelfth bonfires


The Fire Service is urging people to be safe and responsible when they build bonfires to celebrate the Twelfth this year.

Crews attended 29 bonfire-related incidents on the Eleventh night last year, down from 49 in 2011.

Dale Ashford, Assistant Chief Fire Officer Safety Services, said he welcomes the reduction in the number of incidents officers were called to in recent years, but added that the Fire Service will not become complacent on the matter.

The Fire Service has issued advice on how to manage the evening safely, saying bonfires should be a manageable size and must be a safe distance from houses, overhead cables and trees.

Mr Ashford said: “Traditionally the 11th July has been one of the busiest nights of the year for NIFRS however last year there was a 41% reduction in the number of bonfire related incidents compared to the previous year.

“Although I welcome this reduction we cannot become complacent and that is why I want the public to follow our Bonfire Safety Advice when building and attending bonfires.

“We play a central role in protecting our community and we want people to be safe, act responsible and use common sense. Bonfires can easily get out of control if they are not built safely and properly supervised. We will work with local communities to provide bonfire safety advice and we work with other statutory agencies in relation to bonfire safety.

“Bonfires should be kept to a manageable size and sited in a clear open space, at a safe distance from buildings and overhead cables. As a rule of thumb the bonfire should be a minimum distance of five times its height from property. The bonfire 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. Remember should your bonfire get out of control call 999 immediately and ask for the Fire & Rescue Service.

“If we are called out to attend a bonfire related incident I am asking the community for their support to ensure that Firefighters are able to carry out their job without fear of attack or harassment. Thankfully attacks on our Firefighters are declining year on year, but one attack on our Firefighters is still one too many and Firefighters have a job to do to protect the local community.”

NIFRS said the following safety advice should be applied for anyone building or attending bonfires:

Site the bonfire well away from houses, garages, sheds, fences, overhead cables, trees and shrubs;

· As a guide allow a ratio of 1:5, i.e. the distance from the bonfire to the nearest property should be 5 times the height of the bonfire;

· Build the stack so that it is stable and will not collapse;

· Never build a hut or den inside the bonfire;

· Do not burn foam filled furniture, tyres, aerosols, tins of paint or bottles;

· Responsible adults should look after lighting the bonfire. Before lighting the fire check that no children or pets are hiding inside it;

· Never use flammable liquids (petrol or paraffin) to light the fire – use domestic firelighters;

· Keep everyone away from the fire – especially children who must be supervised at all times;

· For an emergency keep buckets of water, a garden hose or a fire extinguisher ready;

· At any sign of danger or in the event of an emergency ring Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service on 999 for assistance.