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Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service and the Environmental Health department are urging people to cease having outdoor fires at this time.  This will reduce the strain on an already stretched resource, to ensure we can provide an effective Covid19 response during this health crisis. In addition to an unnecessary burden on the Fire and Rescue Service, smoke from burning garden waste can often impact on neighbours, particularly those who are vulnerable and especially those who are unwell with respiratory illnesses. Please be thoughtful and neighbourly in these unusual circumstances. Your thoughts and actions support us in helping everyone.

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If you're planning a bonfire in Cornwall, inform Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service before you start. 

This helps us avoid sending fire engines to false alarms when they could be responding to a real emergency.

Call us on 0203 162 2240 and tell the Critical Control Operator:

  • Your location.
  • Tell the operator if the burn is on domestic or commercial property.
  • Time you intend to start burning.
  • Confirm when you have finished burning.

With controlled burns, it is illegal to leave a fire unattended or to have too few people to control it. Always ensure a fire is completely out before you leave it and check next day to ensure it has not reignited.

A guide to the law on burning of waste material

Building a bonfire

Bonfire safety tips

Once the bonfire is lit, make sure you follow these guidelines:

  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby, in case of emergencies.
  • Don’t leave the bonfire unattended.
  • Keep children and pets away from the bonfire.
  • Don’t throw any fireworks onto the fire.
  • Don’t burn aerosols, tyres, canisters, or anything containing foam or paint. Many of these produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode, causing injury.
  • Fully extinguish all fires before leaving to prevent reignition.

Further guidance

  • Firework Safety

  • Garden bonfires - the rules. The rules about:
    • having garden bonfires
    • burning domestic waste
    • complaining about a neighbour's bonfire
    • fines
  • Burning of waste on campfires and bonfires. If you comply with the requirements in this regulatory position statement (RPS) you can burn waste without an environmental permit on campfires at Scout and Guide centres and Guy Fawkes’ night bonfires.
  • Business and commercial waste. The burning of business and commercial waste is an offence, unless under an exemption authorised by the Environment Agency. Any business and commercial waste should be disposed of via a licensed waste carrier, or taken to an authorised site and disposed of as business and commercial waste. Further information on the disposal of business and commercial waste can be found from the link above. Contact the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506 or email them at
  • Fire Safety Outdoors. Further advice and guidance on staying safe outdoors.

Irresponsible behaviour

Anyone with information on fires being deliberately started in the countryside are advised to anonymously call Crimestoppers free on 0800 555 111 or contact Devon and Cornwall Police on 101 with information.

Arson puts both the public and firefighters at unnecessary risk. It ties up resources that could be in demand for other more serious incidents.
A lot of Cornwall is covered by on-call firefighters, so there's also a significant cost to each incident. Visit the Crimestoppers website.

If you would like free advice on any aspect of fire safety, contact our Freephone Community Fire Safety Helpline on 0800 3581 999. Any general enquiries should be directed to: 0300 1234 232.