Prevention is the key to reducing the tragedies and hardships caused by fire. Stopping fires from starting requires the community and the fire service to work together to deliver safer communities.
- 65% of car fires are started deliberately to cover criminal activity, to make a fraudulent insurance claim or as an act of vandalism.
- One in 12 reported stolen vehicles will be set on fire.
- Many other vehicle fires break out simply due to lack of basic maintenance and can be prevented.
- Emphasis should be placed on security of vehicle and safe parking.
- Report abandoned vehicles to the police. Most Metropolitan areas operate a vehicle removal scheme.
Safety Check for Vehicles
- Electrical, check wiring for signs of wear or damage.
- Petrol, routinely check all fuel lines for signs of wear.
- Welding, never use heat, naked flames or welding equipment near the fuel tank or fuel lines.
- Place skips at least 10 metres from buildings.
- Ensure that rubbish is place in the skip and not left on the ground nearby.
- Waste packing and pallets should be removed as soon as possible.
- Full skips should be removed as soon as possible.
- Do not leave full skips over weekends or holiday periods.
- Do not block fire exits.
- Ensure skips are placed in a designated area.
- Do not store combustible waste within 2 metres of any perimeter fences.
- Fires in wheelie bins can spread to surrounding property
- Do not overfill wheelie bins or place loose rubbish around them.
- Wheelie bins should only be put out when a collection is due.
- Our advice is to attend an organised bonfire if possible.
- Bonfires should be built at least 18 metres from any buildings, trees, fences etc.
- They should be no more than 3 metres high for private events and should not be built under overhead cables.
- Do not use petrol or any other flammable liquid to start a bonfire.
- Always check inside the bonfire for animals and children who could be using them as a den.
- Void Properties are a magnet for youths, drug takers and homeless people who often light fires inside to keep warm, often leading to the property catching fire.
- Ensure that any void property notified to you is secured as soon as possible.
Organised Bonfires and Firework Displays
- Running a display takes a lot of work, so try to share the load by planning ahead.
- Set up a committee whose members can each take responsibility for a particular task (including one person to be in charge of all safety arrangements).
- Arrange for fire extinguishers, buckets of water, buckets of sand and metal litter bins to be available on the night.
- Check that plenty of electric torches will be available on the night, with full batteries.
- Publicise the fact that spectators are not allowed to bring their own fireworks (including sparklers).
- Draw up a detailed checklist of tasks and indicate who is to be responsible for each one.
- Check whether you are adequately insured to cover any firework-related injuries to those present at the display.
Picking the Right Location
You should choose a large, clear and well mown area free from obstructions, well away from any buildings, trees and hazards like overhead cables, with as many safe entrances and exits as possible.
These must be:
- Away from the firing area and dropping zone.
- Allow at least 50m x 20m for your firing area.
- Beyond this you will need a dropping zone for spent fireworks of 100m x 50m in the downwind direction.
- Spectators should be kept back on the opposite side to the dropping zone at least 25m from the firing area.
Proper crowd control is essential and needs good planning:
- Arrange for some stewards.
- Take great care at all times.
- Plan your display in advance.
- Do not allow smoking.
- Before lighting any firework, read the instructions on it carefully (by torchlight).
- Make sure that the wind blows away from spectators.
- The display should be angled away from spectators.
- Never use matches or lighters for lighting fire works at a display.
- A sudden change of wind could cause aerial fireworks to fall dangerously among spectators.
- In very windy weather you should consider putting off the display altogether, however disappointing that might be.
Planning a Bonfire
- Bonfires need a lot of organising.
- Don't site it too near your display or firework storage area. And don't site it anywhere near fences or trees.
- Never use flammable liquids like paraffin or petrol to get it going, as this can result in uncontrolled spread of fire or explosion.
- Check immediately before lighting that there is no animal or a young child hidden inside.
- Don't burn dangerous rubbish (e.g. aerosols, paint tins or foam filled furniture).
- Remove any rubbish from your bonfire area in advance so nothing can be thrown onto the fire on the night.
After the Event
The bonfire needs to be put out completely before you leave the site. Information is available from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) or visit the Firework Safety website.
Fire Safety Advice for Businesses and Commerce
- Make sure your fire alarm is tested weekly.
- Inform your staff of what to do in the event of a fire, make sure they are familiar with the evacuation drill and escape routes for the building.
- Make sure you carry out a continuous Fire Risk assessment of your building.
- Never obstruct sprinkler heads and fire detectors.
- Unsafe storage of waste packaging and pallets is a fire risk, never leave waste containers close to buildings.
- Guard all sources of ignition.
- Ensure that Flammable Liquids are stored safely.
- Make sure that machinery and equipment is maintained.
Please contact Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service to for further information or to be advised of your closest Fire Safety office. NB: Please don't attempt to make personal contact directly with Fire Stations.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tel: 01392 872 200
- Explosives & Fireworks Licenses