Posted By: July 09, 2018

Bonfires cost NIFRS £330k in five years

Rory Winters. Irish News. Belfast. Monday, July 9, 2018

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service [NIFRS] dealt with 1,809 bonfires in five years at a cost of almost £330,000.

Between 2013 and 2017, about one in every three call-outs occurred each July.

Figures also show that NIFRS dealt with bonfires throughout the calendar year, including Halloween.

Some nationalists continue to mark the introduction of internment in 1971 by lighting pyres on August 8, which saw fifteen call-outs in 2016.

The statistics were obtained by the website the Detail through a Freedom Of Information request.

It showed the fire service spent £326,385.93 between 2013 and 2017.

Almost half of this was spent in July each year with sixteen individual bonfires costing more than £1,000.

The fire service said July 11/12 and October 31 were the “key dates” that it was called to respond to bonfire-related incidents every year.

“NIFRS prepares for these dates in advance through operational planning, to ensure service delivery is maintained across Northern Ireland, and by working with local communities, other statutory agencies and elected representatives.

“In preparation for July 11, NIFRS works closely with other emergency services to plan any emergency response required.”

NIFRS said it worked pro-actively with communities, statutory partner agencies, and elected representatives to ensure public safety.

“We visit bonfire sites in advance to develop good relations in the community, provide bonfire safety advice and to gain operational intelligence on bonfire size, hazards and any potential risk to property.

“This on-the-ground work has been happening for many years.”

NIFRS also stressed, however, that it has no enforcement power in relation to size or location. Mid-Ulster Council has recently implemented a licensing scheme while other councils run management programmes.