Stopping fires before they start

Newcastle City Council, Northumbria Police and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue are working together to tackle unauthorised bonfires in the city.

In the run up to bonfire night, city council officers and the police will be patrolling hotspot areas to tackle accumulating rubbish that may be used in illegal bonfires. The team will be checking back lanes, yards and gardens in Newcastle for any waste that may be intended for illegal bonfires and reporting the rubbish so it can be safely removed from the area.

The team will issue notices to people to make them get rid of any build-up of their waste and if they don’t remove it then they will be charged by the council to take it away.

Estate walkabouts and a series of inspections are taking place to make sure empty properties are identified and boarded up if they are seen at risk from fire. Abandoned vehicles and wheelie bins left out in back lanes will also be removed so they can’t be set alight. 

Officers are also warning that action will be taken against anyone caught gathering waste, dumping rubbish or burning waste illegally. They may be fined up to £50,000 or even face a prison sentence.

Tracy McCann, Senior Environmental Health Officer for Newcastle City Council said: “These fires are very harmful to health and can seriously damage the environment. In worst case scenarios they can hurt, maybe kill, innocent bystanders. To be clear, having a fire like this is a criminal offence and those responsible can be heavily fined or even sent to prison.” 

Burning certain types of material can cause pollution to the environment and damage people’s health.

Materials that should never be put on a bonfire include plastics, rubber, glass, household waste, treated, painted and manufactured wood, mattresses other furniture and metal. Aerosols or anything containing paint or foam produce poisonous fumes when burnt and are likely to explode.

Chief Inspector Sarah Pitt, from Newcastle Area Command said: “Public safety is our priority which is why we are encouraging people to attend organised fireworks and bonfire displays which are taking place across the city. These events are much safer and more spectacular than having fireworks at your own home.

“In the past our joined up approach to tackling the problem of unauthorised bonfires by working with the fire service, local authority and other partners has proved very successful in preventing serious injuries and disorder during Bonfire Night period which is what we are aiming to maintain again this year."

Cllr Linda Hobson, Chair of Safe Newcastle and portfolio holder for community safety and regulation for Newcastle City Council, said: “The council and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue encourages everyone to attend an organised bonfire or firework event for a safe and more enjoyable evening, if you are having your own bonfire the message is simple: make sure it is safe and controlled and if you’re not sure something is safe to burn, don’t put it on your bonfire."

If you are concerned of any build of rubbish that can be used on illegal bonfires call Envirocall on 0191 278 78 78.