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Advice for Firestarters – from the Firestoppers
Wednesday 31st October, 2012

It’s a scene that evokes many fond childhood memories. A Guy Fawkes effigy holds court from his lofty throne on a blazing fire. Bright streaks illuminate the night sky and cast a glow on enthralled, ruddied faces.

If that warm and welcoming scene is what Bonfire Night brings to mind, wouldn’t it be a shame to let the night end on a damp squib just by failing to follow a few simple rules?

“Every year we see the tragic consequences of reckless disregard for basic safety precautions,” says Steve Sheridan, Wigan Borough Commander with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service. “We would always advise people to attend an organised event wherever possible but if you do want to organise your own, you must follow some basic common sense rules to ensure your bonfire isn’t a hazard. We do have the power to remove any fires which we believe on inspection pose a risk to the public. Whilst we don’t want to be killjoys we won’t hesitate in removing a fire if it looks dangerous, so people should bear this in mind when they are planning their evening. Otherwise a lot of people could end up disappointed.”

To comply with the rules:
  • Bonfires must be built at least 18 metres away from buildings, trees, fences, overhead cables, car parks and roads, and never more than 3 metres high (around the height of a typical bus shelter).

  • Spectators must be kept at least 5 metres away, ideally behind a barrier.

  • Only use suitable materials when building a bonfire. Never throw aerosols, batteries, bottles, foam-filled furniture, tins of paint and tyres onto fires. Accelerants such as petrol, paraffin, diesel, methylated and white spirits should never be used but rather standard firelighters.

  • Don’t drink alcohol if you’re hosting an event, particularly if you are handling fireworks.

  • You should always ask permission from landowners before you build a bonfire. It is illegal to build a bonfire on council owned land. Please seek permission from landowners such as the council, Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust and Wigan and Leigh Housing before organising a bonfire event.

  • Store fireworks in a closed metal box and follow the instructions to the letter. Light at arms length using a taper, stand well back and never return to a lit one. Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114 or CE.

  • Never throw fireworks or put them in your pocket.

  • Check there are no animals hiding in the bonfires before lighting. Keep pets secured in the house.

  • Keep a bucket of water close by.

Officers from the council’s neighbourhood and cleansing teams are currently working with PCSOs and fire officers, looking out for fires across the borough which are deemed too dangerous. They are also inspecting fires to ensure only suitable materials are used and to deter people from using them as an opportunity to dispose of unwanted household waste.

Terry Dunn, Director of Environment at Wigan Council. “Bonfires are not a free for all for people to dispose of unwanted waste. Fly-tipping is illegal and we will prosecute fly-tippers. Some businesses have used the occasion as an opportunity for tipping a variety of flammable materials, gas cylinders and asbestos, all of which could cause serious injuries to bystanders. We have successfully prosecuted businesses who have dumped trade waste on community bonfires and will continue to track down these environmental criminals who blight our borough.

“I urge people to be extra vigilant when securing their wheelie bins and I'd like to remind residents that is an offence to pass household waste to an unlicensed waste carrier. So if anyone knocks at your door offering to remove waste, please check they are licensed to do so. If your waste is dumped illegally, you could be fined £5,000.”

Planned events include Haigh Bonfire and Firework Display 04 November 2012. Gates open 4pm. Bonfire lit 6pm. Firework display 7pm. Tickets Only. Advanced Tickets Adult £7 Child £5 Family £20 (2 Adults 2 Children) On The Night Sales Adult £8 Child £6. To Book Please Tel: 01942 828 271

For further advice on bonfire safety, log onto www.safe4autumn.com To report any incidents of fire-related anti-social behaviour, please call Firestoppers on 0800 923 9999.

Members of the public can report ASB, fly-tipping and dangerous unlit bonfires to the Council's Environmental Services Helpline on 01942 404364, or by e-mailing esservices@wigan.gov.uk

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