Domestic bonfires

What's wrong with burning rubbish at home?

  • Smoke creates pollution
  • Burning waste materials like plastic, rubber or painted wood damages your health
  • The fumes are particularly harmful to children, the elderly and people with breathing problems like asthma or bronchitis
  • Smoke prevents neighbours from enjoying their gardens, hanging out washing and opening their windows

Each year the Fire Service uses valuable resources dealing with fires in yards and gardens. Please recycle or dispose of your rubbish responsibly, and don't burn it at home. It's unsafe, it causes pollution and it can be illegal.

What are my alternatives?

Top Tips

  • If your neighbour is having a fire that is causing a problem, consider talking to them - they may be unaware of the problem

If you're planning to have a fire

  • Ask your neighbours beforehand, especially if their washing is out or they are enjoying their garden
  • Set the fire well away from property, overhanging trees, cables and combustible materials
  • Don't use petrol, paraffin or white spirit to start a fire
  • Do not burn aerosol cans, tins of paint or bottles - they can explode and injure bystanders
  • Don't burn rubber or plastic, foam or paint and don't burn your general household waste
  • Shred confidential documents, don't burn them
  • Put the fire out if smoke or debris is blown onto neighbouring premises - keep a bucket of water/sand or a hose nearby in case of emergencies
  • Avoid burning at weekends and bank holidays when people are more likely to be out in their gardens
  • Never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder

Chimineas and Firepits

You may be able to burn garden waste like twigs or hedge clippings without causing a nuisance if your fire is small, and they are infrequent. Avoid muggy or windy weather, as the smoke won't disperse properly. If the Fire and Rescue Service have to be called, they will extinguish the fire if it poses a danger.

If you have a chiminea or fire pit make sure you use an appropriate fuel, like clean, untreated wood, smokeless fuel or charcoal. Don't burn waste.

The law

  • If smoke, smell or ash causes a recurring problem, we can serve a legal notice which could result in a prosecution
  • Burning domestic waste e.g. plastics, furniture or rubber items can be an offence and offenders could be prosecuted and fined
  • Anyone caught burning plastic covered cable to recover the metal will be prosecuted and could be fined up to £5,000
  • If you light a fire and the smoke drifts across a road and endangers traffic, you could be fined
  • Back to the Pollution and air quality homepage