Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service is appealing to those planning a bonfire on their property to let the them know in advance after a series of false alarm calls.

Over the last few days there have been 20 unnecessary call outs after gorse, heathland or bonfires have been deliberately lit and are under control.

The service’s fire control act on 999 calls, sending firefighters when crews are not actually needed.

If you are planning a large bonfire or controlled burning in Cornwall, inform the Fire and Rescue Service before you start by dialling 01872 320205..

Tell the Fire Control Operator:

  • Your location.
  • Time you intend to start burning.
  • Confirm when you have finished burning.

CFRS Prevention Group Manager Mark Blatchford said: “Whilst we would never discourage the public in making a call to the emergency services if they are concerned about a potentially hazardous fire, if we have been made aware in advance that controlled burning or a bonfire is taking place in a certain location, we will not send out appliances unnecessarily to the scene - potentially taking resources away from an emergency.

"Our appeal is to those who are planning a controlled burn – all it takes is a phone call. Once we are aware of a controlled burn, our highly trained 999 control room operators can judge how best to respond to an emergency call.”

"The law does not stop you having a bonfire, but we can take action against you under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 if you cause a statutory nuisance from smoke or smell. It is also important to have a hose or buckets of water put in place in advance to extinguish the fire should it get out of control.

"With a controlled burn, it is illegal to leave the fire unattended or to have too few people to control it.

Top tips for planning a safe controlled burn:

  • Inform Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service on 01872 320205 and give your location and expected time of burning.
  • Locate the bonfire in an open area, away from any buildings, sheds or fences.
  • Check the weather conditions, looking specifically at the direction and speed of the wind.
  • Ensure before lighting the bonfire that no highly flammable materials will be involved such as gas canisters, paint tins, any form of chemicals and aerosols or plastics.
  • Do not leave your bonfire unattended.
  • Keep a bucket of water or garden hose near by for emergencies.
  • Ensure the fire collapses inwards when it burns.
  • Never use petrol or paraffin on a fire.
  • Ensure that the remaining embers are fully extinguished before leaving alone and check next day to ensure it has not reignited.

Fires in the countryside can easily be started accidentally. A carelessly discarded cigarette can lead to a huge fire and with many areas in Cornwall being recognised as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) the results to the wildlife and plant life can be devastating.

Follow this simple advice to guard against accidental fires in the countryside:

  • Do not discard cigarettes in the countryside.
  • Do not leave glass items around after a picnic or barbecue; put them in the bin.
  • If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately.
  • Don't attempt to tackle fires that can't be put out with a bucket of water – leave the area as quickly as possible.