Bonfires

If you're planning a large bonfire in Cornwall, inform Cornwall Fire, Rescue and Community Safety Service before you start.

This helps us avoid sending fire engines to false alarms when they could be responding to a real emergency.

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Call us on 0203 162 2240 and tell the Critical Control Operator:

  • Your location.
  • Tell the operator if the burn is on domestic or commercial property.
  • Time you intend to start burning.
  • Confirm when you have finished burning.

With controlled burns, it is illegal to leave a fire unattended or to have too few people to control it. Always ensure a fire is completely out before you leave it and check next day to ensure it has not reignited.

Bonfire and firework safety leaflet

A guide to the law on burning of waste material

Building a bonfire

  • Only burn dry material. Damp material causes more smoke.
  • Build the bonfire away from sheds, fences and trees. When you are building it, please check that there are no hibernating or sleeping hedgehogs like Horrace!
  • Check there are no cables, like telephone wires, above the bonfire.
  • Don’t use petrol or paraffin to get the fire going, it may get out of control quickly.

Bonfire safety tips

Once the bonfire is lit, make sure you follow these guidelines:

  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby, in case of emergencies.
  • Don’t leave the bonfire unattended.
  • Keep children and pets away from the bonfire.
  • Don’t throw any fireworks into the fire.
  • Don’t burn aerosols, tyres, canisters, or anything containing foam or paint - many produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode, causing injury.
  • Spray the embers with water once the bonfire has died down, to stop it re-igniting.

Further guidance

  • Garden bonfires - the rules - The rules about having garden bonfires, burning domestic waste, complaining about a neighbour's bonfire, fines
  • Burning of waste on campfires and bonfires - If you comply with the requirements in this regulatory position statement (RPS) you can burn waste without an environmental permit on campfires at Scout and Guide centres and Guy Fawkes’ night bonfires.
  • Business and commercial waste - The burning of business and commercial waste is an offence, unless under an exemption authorised by the Environment Agency. Any business and commercial waste should be disposed of via a licensed waste carrier, or taken to an authorised site and disposed of as business and commercial waste. Further information on the disposal of business and commercial waste can be found from the link above. Contact the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506 or email them at enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk
  • Fire Safety Outdoors - further advice and guidance on staying safe outdoors.

Irresponsible behaviour

Anyone with information on fires being deliberately started in the countryside are advised to anonymously call Crimestoppers free on 0800 555 111 or contact Devon and Cornwall Police on 101 with information.

Arson puts both the public and firefighters at unnecessary risk. It ties up resources that could be in demand for other more serious incidents.
A lot of Cornwall is covered by on-call firefighters, so there's also a significant cost to each incident. Visit the Crimestoppers website.

If you would like free advice on any aspect of fire safety, contact our Freephone Community Fire Safety Helpline on 0800 3581 999. Any general enquiries should be directed to: 0300 1234 232.