News release text
Kent Fire and Rescue Service is reminding residents plotting their own bonfire and firework celebrations this November to ensure they keep things under control.
Since January, crews have attended 307 bonfire related incidents across the county, a slight increase to the previous year*. The majority of these calls were due to bonfires getting out of control and spreading to nearby areas such as grassland, fences, or sheds.
Of particular concern are people attempting to use flammable liquids to get their bonfire started. Earlier this month a man from Strood suffered burns to his hands after the container of petrol he was using to get his bonfire going caught alight.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service Community Safety Manager, Stuart Skilton, said: “While a bonfire might make for a traditional celebration, its worth keeping in mind that if not kept under control any open fire has the potential to spread alarmingly quickly.
“When planning your bonfire it’s important to position it well away from fences, buildings, or overhanging branches. Check that the bonfire’s construction is stable before lighting and never use accelerants such as petrol, methyalated spirits or paraffin to get it going or revive it.
If your bonfire does start getting out of control, it’s often far safer to call the fire service rather then trying to tackle the flames yourself. Alternatively, I would encourage people to attend an organised event where the necessary safety measures should be in place without risking their personal safety and damage to property”
Firefighters have also been visiting schools throughout the county to help raise awareness of bonfire safety and pass on the message that fireworks can be extremely dangerous if not used correctly.
Stuart added: “While incidents regarding fireworks remain relatively low it’s important that they’re only used in accordance with the manufactures instructions and children are not allowed to use them without constant supervision.
“If you’re using sparklers ensure they are lit at arms length and not given to children under five years old.”
Take care with bonfires:
A bonfire should not be lit before any firework display unless the firework display is sufficiently far away to ensure stray sparks from the bonfire cannot fall into the firework area.
A bonfire should not contain any potentially hazardous materials which may explode or give off toxic fumes, such as; aerosols, batteries, bottles, foam-filled furniture or tins of paint.
A bonfire should be kept to a manageable size and evenly built so that is collapses inwards as it burns.
Always check the bonfire’s construction is still sound prior to lighting it, that there are no children or animals inside, and that hazardous items such as aerosols and fireworks have not been thrown onto it.
The bonfire should not be lit by children or left unattended and nothing should be cooked on it.
Flammable liquids such as petrol, diesel, methyalated spirits or white spirit should NEVER be poured onto the bonfire to light or revive it.
Always follow the Firework Code
Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114 or with a CE mark
Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks.
Keep fireworks in a closed box.
Follow the instructions on each firework.
Light them at arm’s length, using a taper.
Stand well back.
Never go near a firework that has not been lit - even if it doesn’t go off it could still explode.
Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them.
Always supervise children around fireworks.
Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves.
Never give sparklers to a child under five.
Keep pets indoors.
* Firefighters attended 307 bonfire related incidents between 1 January and 30 September 2013. This is a twelve per cent increase compared with the same period in 2012.