Increased call outs to fire crews for bonfire incidents

Be responsible

Firefighters are urging the public to be responsible if they have bonfires and barbecues  following an increase in the number of bonfire-related 999 calls and incidents Kent Fire and Rescue Service has dealt with this week, compared to the same time in previous years.

The rise is believed to be because more people are at home due to Covid-19 isolation, and opting to have bonfires in the fine weather. It could also be linked to the closure of household waste sites across the county.

With warmer temperatures forecast this weekend, it’s expected even more people will have controlled outdoor fires in the form of bonfires, fire pits and barbecues.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s Assistant Director for Resilience, Lee Rose, said: “We are monitoring what impact the current Covid-19 isolation situation is having on the type of incidents we are attending, and it’s clear there has been more bonfires across the county, and more people noticing them in recent weeks.

“With lots of people staying home in line with government advice, we’re getting more calls from concerned residents seeing smoke – those unaware that it’s coming from a controlled burn. So, we’re asking that if you plan to have a bonfire or light a fire pit, please let your nearby neighbours know to avoid concern, and to help reduce the number non-critical 999 calls we receive.”

The fire service may not respond to call outs regarding bonfires where the burning is taking place in a controlled and responsible manner.

Anyone having a bonfire is urged to take care and follow fire service safety advice:

  • Remember to build your bonfire well clear of buildings, garden sheds, fences, hedges and overhanging branches.
  • Keep it to a manageable size and make sure it is evenly built so it collapses inwards as it burns.
  • Always have a bucket of water or hosepipe nearby in case of emergency. If the bonfire becomes out of control and catches foliage or property alight, call 999.
  • Be sure not to leave bonfires unattended and dampen them down fully once you’re done.

Those enjoying barbecues are also urged to do so safely, keeping cooking well away from fences, foliage and buildings even if there are no flames, because radiated heat alone can cause nearby plants or structures catch fire.


Thanet council posted on social media earlier this week to ask people not to have bonfires.

1 Comment

  1. The Fire Brigade are absolutely right – our next door neighbours had a massive bonfire with huge flames about 8 pm about a week ago, It was so enormous that we thought it was several gardens away. We very nearly called the fire brigade. We were appalled when we discovered it was next door and are hoping our fence hasn’t been damaged as we can’t see their side. Later the same evening there was a lot of smoke blown over to our garden on the strong north wind and this has happened twice at least since, mainly smoke this time. It would have been less inconsiderate if they had not done this in a high wind, and we were also worried because there was at least one child and a dog in their garden at the time. How can people be so thoughtless at a time of crisis, possibly wasting the time of the emergency services?

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