Public warned of the dangers of setting fire to wheelie bins ahead of Bonfire weekend

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service encourage people to store away their wheelie bins safely to avoid fires this Bonfire weekend.
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Firefighters have teamed up with local authorities across the region to urge residents to secure their wheelie bins – after nearly 2,000 were set on fire in two years.

Over the darker nights when autumn meets winter, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) are asking residents to take extra precautions to keep their community safe.

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Last a campaign was launched asking for the support of the public in educating young people about the consequences of starting bonfires and setting off fireworks.

Now the Service has asked residents to take extra steps to secure their wheelie bins, after a spike in incidents of them being set alight in anti-social behaviour.

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This issue is something not only being recognised as a problem by the fire service but also by Local Councils and Housing Associations across Tyne and Wear.

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The latest figures show the number of wheelie bin fires attended between October 2021 and September 2023 total 1,750. 122 of those were in South Tyneside.

A quarter of those figures were posted in the months of October and November – the busiest time of the year for the fire service over the Bonfire period.

Station Manager Jonathan Ramanayake, from TWFRS’s Prevention and Education team, has now asked for the public support.

He said: “We don’t set out to spoil the party for anyone as we love to see people having fun with their friends and family.

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“But we do want to ensure that people are staying safe and steering clear of danger, where a fire could potentially occur or where someone’s life could be put at risk.

“Wheelie bins are present at every household across the region, and even one fire involving them is one too many. 

Wheelie bin fire attended by TWFRSWheelie bin fire attended by TWFRS
Wheelie bin fire attended by TWFRS

 “We would always urge people to bring in their bins after they’ve been emptied and keep them in a safe place out of the reach of temptation.

 “The people who are fire setting aren’t only jeopardising the lives of others but they could also be putting their own life at risk, as the bins are highly flammable and let off poisonous fumes that could prove fatal if inhaled

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“Also, if we are answering a call relating to a deliberate fire, then that is taking a crew away from dealing with a potentially life-saving incident. 

“If members of the public has any information to provide about the people causing the incidents in their local community then they can report the details anonymously through Firestoppers.”

Councillor Jim Foreman, Lead Member for Housing and Community Safety at South Tyneside Council, added: “Wheelie bins can become an easy target for arsonists, particularly in the run up to and around Bonfire Night.

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“These fires are dangerous and irresponsible and add pressure to our fire services.

“We want Bonfire Night to be as safe and enjoyable as possible for everyone. We’d ask residents to minimise the risk of their bins being set alight by only putting them out on the allocated collection day and bringing it back in straight away.”

If worried residents are aware of any anti-social behaviour-related incidents, they should call 999 in the event of an emergency and they will receive a response from the Fire Service.