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Fire service plea for people not to light bonfires, as calls increase by 43%

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service and the Environmental Health department are urging people not to light outdoor fires at this time after a 43% increase in call-outs since last year.

At a time when fire crews need to be on standby to help respond to this health crisis, and when some officers are seconded to help ambulances and paramedics, the service has seen an increase in incidents of hedge fires, shed fires and gorse fires - many of which are sparked by bonfires.  

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Cornwall’s Environmental Health team is also concerned about the effect of smoke on people with respiratory conditions. 

Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection, Rob Nolan, said: “We understand that during the lockdown more people are enjoying their gardens and finding it difficult to dispose of their green waste through the normal routes.

“However, smoke from burning garden waste can often impact on neighbours, particularly those who are vulnerable and especially those who are unwell with respiratory illnesses, and may also prevent them from enjoying their garden themselves. Please be thoughtful and neighbourly in these unusual circumstances.” 

The effects of increased calls to CFRS is continuing to impact fire crews and the Critical Control team, placing unnecessary strain on the system.

The Covid-19 pandemic means that we are all having to live differently, work differently and adapt to a different normal. All key services of Cornwall Council ask you to consider the following: 

  • Do you have to burn? 
  • Think of the potential impacts to the environment and wildlife around us, particularly at this time of year and with the prolonged dry weather. 
  • Consider the impacts on all people within our communities, self-isolating and/or high risk groups shielding and the impacts of smoke on existing respiratory conditions and those associated with Covid-19. 
  • Think of the impact on already stretched resources and all the unnecessary call outs to incidents of this nature. 
  • Give consideration to the potential damage and fire spread to neighbouring properties and the potential dangers of risk to life and to property, whilst also exposing fire crews to increased risks with these incidents and unnecessary contact and travel. 
  • Green waste should be composted in your garden, or stored until such time that the normal green waste disposal routes are resumed. 

For those residents who are adversely affected by smoke from neighbours repeatedly having garden waste bonfires, or who believe that other items such as plastics or treated wood are being burned, then please contact Environmental Health on 0300 1234 212 .

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