Firefighters say a push to reduce garden fires during the national lockdown has been a huge success, despite the period being the driest in recent history.
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue saw a ‘huge’ spike in garden-related fires towards the end of March this year, with people opting to burn waste in the absence of waste recycling centres.
This prompted the service to launch its ‘Take The Pledge’ garden fire initiative – during which officers urged people not to have bonfires during the on-going pandemic.
The result, statistics show, was a reduction in incidents during the campaign period – April and May – in comparison to previous, similar years.
“Incident figures generally speak for themselves but these don’t tell the whole story,” said Area Manager Simon Dunker, head of the joint police and fire community safety team.
“Rainfall data suggests that this year’s April and May were the driest they have been in the last five years, at least. This, as well as the fact that waste recycling centres were closed and the whole country was in a national lockdown, makes a reduction quite remarkable.
“On behalf of the service I’d like to say a huge thank you to the public for taking on board our messaging – supporting us and their neighbours. I’d also like to say a big thank you to our staff who consistently go above and beyond to make South Yorkshire safer.”
As well as a spike in incidents, officers say their campaign was also driven by a flurry of complaints from residents who were struggling to get out in their gardens due to bonfires.
The service attended 533 garden related incidents during April and May this year. This is five percent less than the 563 attended during the same period in 2017 and two percent less than in 2019 – with both of these years experiencing similarly dry springs.
Over a thousand people pledged not to have bonfires during the pandemic and many more got in touch with the service to offer support and ask for advice around controlled burns.
You can still take the pledge not to have a garden fire this summer here.