A BONFIRE Night warning was issued today in a bid to ensure that this year’s event is a happy rather than tragic one for folk in Wigan and Leigh.
Residents were warned today that failure to obey the rules surrounding fires and fireworks could turn the celebrations into a damp squib.
Steve Sheridan, Wigan Borough Commander with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We always advise people to attend an organised event wherever possible because every year we see the tragic consequences of badly built fires, recklessness around fireworks and basic lack of common sense.
“But if you want to organise your own, you must follow the rules.
“Bonfires must be built at least 18m away from buildings, trees, fences, overhead cables, car parks and roads.
“Also, fires must never be built more than 3m high. If you think the height of a bus shelter, that’s about right. And spectators must be kept at least 5m away, ideally behind a barrier.”
“When building a bonfire, people are also advised to use suitable materials, and under no circumstances to 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.
Sally Wolstencroft, Wigan Council’s Head of Safer, Cleaner, Greener, said: “Most people fail to realise that it is illegal to build a bonfire on public land which is owned by Wigan Council, Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust and Wigan and Leigh Housing.
“However, we recognise the value of community spirit and we aren’t here to spoil people’s fun.
“Having said that, whilst we don’t want to be killjoys we won’t hesitate in removing a fire if it looks dangerous, so organisers should bear this in mind when they are planning their evening otherwise a lot of people will end up disappointed.
“We do have the power to remove any fires which we believe on inspection pose a risk to the public and we will exercise this power robustly.”
Officers from the council’s neighbourhood and cleansing teams will be working with PCSOs and fire officers, looking out for fires across the borough which are deemed too dangerous.
They will also be 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.
Ms Wolstencroft added: “Fly-tipping is illegal and bonfires are not a free for all for people to dispose of unwanted waste.
“We will prosecute fly-tippers.”
The recent advice about bonfire regulations is promoted as part of safe4autumn, an annual campaign run by agencies across the borough.
It aims to encourage communities, and young people in particular, to have seasonal fun in a safe and responsible manner.
For more information, log onto www.safe4autumn.com
To anonymously report any incidents of fire-related anti-social behaviour, please call Firestoppers on 0800 923 9999.
Members of the public can report anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping and dangerous unlit bonfires to the council’s Environmental Services Helpline on 01942 404364, or by e-mailing email@example.com.
The annual Operation Treacle will also soon be getting under way with police and council experts warning of the dangers of fooling around with fireworks.
Shops which sell them will also be closely scrutinised to ensure they are selling authorised fireworks and that they are not selling them to minors.
Safety warning visits have been planned for many of the borough’s schools.