Waste Fires

Fire Chiefs and LGA urge public and businesses not to burn waste following rise in open fires

P​eople and businesses are being urged by the National Fire Chiefs Council and the Local Government Association not to burn general and garden waste during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

​Some fire and rescue services have seen a rise in the number of outdoor fires they are being called out to – ​putting additional strain on services. This ​could be a result of the temporary closure of local household waste recycling centres and the suspension of garden waste collections in some areas, following government social distancing measures.

Garden fires are a nuisance to neighbours trying to enjoy their garden; especially under the current climate. NFCC has also issued a reminder that councils can issue an abatement notice if frequent bonfires are causing a nuisance to neighbours. You can also be fined if you light a fire and allow the smoke to drift across the road and become a danger to traffic.*

For businesses, burning of commercial waste can be an offence unless carried out under an Environmental Permit or formal exemption.

Roy Wilsher, Chair of the NFCC, said:

“It is really important that we all take proactive and responsible steps to reduce the likelihood of open fires escalating dangerously to a point where fire service response is needed. We are also asking people to take litter home with them when out for a walk and to discard cigarettes safely to prevent wildfires starting. These steps will support fire and rescue services in maintaining effective response and resilience activities during these challenging and unprecedented times.

I understand that with people spending more time at home, it is an ideal time to carry out a spring-clean or tend to the garden. However, outdoor fires can quickly get out of hand, please be responsible and do not to burn general waste at the current time. Do not leave bagged waste and rubbish out on the street as these can be a target for arsonists.

Fire services have committed to providing support to other emergency services during this pandemic. Bringing down the number of preventable fires will mean that fire services ​have more capacity to support the most vulnerable in their communities, while ensuring they maintain their emergency response.

Cllr David Renard, Environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said:

Some councils have seen a recent increase in the number of complaints about the burning of rubbish in gardens and backyards, which is obviously causing concern and has led to an increasing demand on fire services, putting lives at risk.

While some household waste and recycling centres have temporarily closed, and some kerbside collections have been suspended or reduced in frequency in some areas, there is no need to burn waste. Many council waste collection services are running as normal.

For large numbers of people stuck indoors self-isolating at home, including those with respiratory problems, the ability to use their gardens to enjoy clean fresh air and vent their homes is very important.

We urge people and businesses not to burn garden waste – composting or recycling it where possible is better for the environment.

Burning household waste is an offence and liable to prosecution.”