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Burning Out of Control: How to Responsibly Burn a Bonfire

The fire brigade are often called out to over 50 bonfires per year that get out of control. Given the current climate crisis that has led to hotter, drier weather year on year, this makes the conditions even more prime for a fire to spread rapidly outdoors, which can have devastating effects both on the surrounding environment and wildlife, as well as your own home and your neighbours’ homes.


As such, it is important that should you decide to build and burn a bonfire, you take the strictest measures to ensure it doesn’t get out of control. Ideally, it’s best to recycle or compost your home and garden waste where possible, however should you go through with lighting a bonfire, here are some key safety tips to remember.


What to Burn and What Not to Burn


When burning a bonfire, you should burn dry material only (for example, wood or paper). In the case of plants, it is okay to burn clean and dry vegetation, although damp or green matter should instead be composted or put in your garden waste bin, since these will create lots of smoke if burned that could drift across any local highways - which could land you with a fine - or onto your neighbours’ properties.


As for things that you cannot burn, there are certain types of domestic waste that you are prohibited from burning since they could cause harm to human health or pollute the environment. This includes:


  • Household waste (e.g. plastic packaging or food)

  • Plastic

  • Polystyrene

  • Aerosols

  • Rubber (e.g. tyres)

  • Paint tins - nor painted or treated wood

  • Flammable liquids (e.g. oil, petrol or spirits)


You should also avoid burning lots of hay, straw or bark, since these are a fire hazard and are prohibited by many councils, other than some exceptions for farmers.


Building Your Bonfire


Choosing where and how to build your bonfire plays a big part in ensuring that it’s safe. Make sure that you look around the area where you plan to build your bonfire to check that there are no trees, bushes, sheds, fences or outdoor furniture nearby, since these can easily catch fire.


Before lighting it, always check for any wildlife that may have sought refuge in the nooks and crannies of your bonfire, such as snakes, hedgehogs or frogs. You can do this by checking with a torch, remembering to check at different intervals including one final check right before you light the bonfire. Ideally, it’s best to stack all your bonfire materials ready to build your bonfire, then build it in place before you light it to ensure that no wildlife is harmed.


On top of this, we recommend making your bonfire smaller to start with, since you can always add more materials to it once it’s burning and you know that you’ve got the fire under control. When it is lit, never leave it unattended and always have a bucket of water, hosepipe or fire extinguisher on hand in case the fire gets out of hand and needs to be put out.


Fire Extinguishers in Kent


If you’re planning on burning a bonfire in your garden, then it’s a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher on hand just in case it gets out of control. Get in touch with EK Protection, your local fire safety company in Kent, to discuss your fire extinguisher rental options.

Contact us today.


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