The Isle of Man Government is appealing for people to support their neighbours as well as the emergency services by not lighting bonfires during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Isle of Man Government is not looking to ban garden fires at this time but people are asked to avoid burning domestic and garden waste as it can be dangerous and cause a nuisance to those living nearby.
With restrictions on movement, schools closed and many either unable to work or working from home, it is recognised that households may be creating more domestic and garden waste than usual - which is leading to a build-up due to the temporary closure of civic amenity sites.
However bonfires can cause a problem for neighbours, who might be self-isolating, and at home more often than usual. The Isle of Man Government is urging residents to temporarily store any excess waste until restrictions are lifted and it can be disposed of at their nearest amenity site.
Kevin Groom, Chief Fire Officer for the Isle of Man Fire & Rescue Service, said:
‘We are asking people to support their neighbours as well as the emergency services by not lighting bonfires during the COVID-19 lockdown.
‘Especially after this dry weather fire can spread quickly and cause serious damage and disruption to other people. It also creates extra pressure on the already busy emergency services. Bonfire smoke often means people are unable to open windows for fresh air and we have had reports that smoke is having a negative impact on people with respiratory conditions such as asthma and Covid-19 symptoms.’
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for the Environment, Food and Agriculture said:
‘By lighting bonfires we can unintentionally cause a lot of upset and distress, not just to our immediate neighbours who might be enjoying their gardens during this very difficult time, but across a wider area where we live.
‘It is really important that we all consider others at this time so we need to make sure those in our communities who may have respiratory problems are protected – and we can do this by not creating smoke and fire in the open air.’
Although household bonfires are not illegal, household waste including DIY waste, plastics and treated wood should not be burnt as they can produce toxic smoke.
If you do have a bonfire, the simple act of informing the Emergency Services Joint Control Room (ESJCR) reduces the risk of crews turning out to false alarms.