Council seizes 500 tonnes of bonfire fuel ahead of Halloween

Dublin Fire Brigade warns against illegal fires and use of fireworks

Children  at a blazing Halloween bonfire at Glasthule, Co Dublin, two years ago. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Children at a blazing Halloween bonfire at Glasthule, Co Dublin, two years ago. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

More than 500 tonnes of pallets, tyres and other materials stockpiled for bonfires has been seized by Dublin City Council in the lead up to Halloween.

Dublin Fire Brigade has issued a warning on the dangers of unregulated bonfires and illegal fireworks, which result in catastrophic injuries each year including the loss of fingers and sometimes entire hands, and severe burns to the body and face.

“All bonfires are illegal - and our message is: do not go to them, and if you are aware of any material being stockpiled, please report it to us in confidence,” Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn said.

Mr Quinn was speaking at St Brigid’s Senior Girls National School in Finglas yesterday where the dangers of fireworks and bonfires were outlined to children.

Chief fire officer Pat Fleming said bonfires had moved from the green areas in the centre of housing estates, where they could be easily detected and dismantles by the council, to areas of waste ground, often in abandoned estates.

“The traditional bonfire was generally smaller - now you have these very large bonfires on unoccupied green areas of waste land and they are very hard to control. A change of wind can completely change the nature of the fire.”

Alcohol consumption contributed to a lot of the injuries the fire and ambulance services dealt with, but parents should not be under the misapprehension that by supervising their children at a bonfire they are safe, Mr Fleming said.

“Nobody knows what’s inside that pile. There could be aerosols or glass which will explode and can cause injuries to people even if they think they’re standing well back.”

Fireworks and their importation is illegal and they are frequently poorly manufactured - which can mean the detonate too early, he said. “Fireworks and severe injuries go hand in hand. No pun intended.”

The fire services also had to contend with attacks on personnel and on their vehicles on Halloween, even when they were attending the scene of an incident, he pointed out.

Dublin Fire Brigade responded to 639 callouts between 4pm on October 31st and 8am on November 1st last year. This number has fallen from 871 in 2009, however.

Halloween last year cost the council €700,000, including conducting preventative stockpile raids.

The council last year removed about 800 tonnes of stockpiled materials. This included over 1,000 tyres and a large amount of domestic waste. Waste company Greyhound said it had become aware of a “distinct increase” in thefts of bins for use on bonfires and has asked customers to store their bins out of sight.

A number of alternative Halloween activities have been organised by the council, including the Otherworld Festival in Ballymun, Finglas Frightfest and the Bram Stoker Festival in the City Centre.

Details are available on dublincity.ie.