Fire chief urges bonfire safety on eleventh night after increase in call-outs

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By Michael McHugh

The number of times firefighters called to bonfire incidents last Eleventh Night rose by 39%, an officer said.

A senior commander appealed for people to put safety first at next week's events in Northern Ireland.

Alan Walmsley said crews attended 33 incidents last year.

He said: "We are hoping this year to see a further reduction in the number of bonfire-related incidents we attend, but this can only be achieved if people think safety first at bonfires.

"We will continue to work with local communities, community leaders, local councils and land-owners to put safety first at bonfires."

Last year, the NIFRS regional control centre dealt with 43 bonfire-related 999 calls, 12 more than in 2015 (48% increase).

Mr Walmsley added since 2013, there had been a downward trend in the number of incidents, apart from last year.

"Our main priority is to keep people safe from the dangers of fire and so we appeal directly to the bonfire builders and community representatives to listen to our advice.

"Bonfires should be kept at a manageable size and sited in a clear, open space at a safe distance from buildings and overhead cables.

"A bonfire should be a minimum distance of five times its height from property.

"It should not contain any potentially hazardous materials or tyres and never use flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin as these can produce explosive vapours."

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