Don’t have a rubbish bonfire night – safely secure and store away your wheelie bins

Firefighters have teamed up with local authorities across the region to urge residents to secure their wheelie bins – after nearly 2,000 were set on fire in two years.

Over the darker nights when autumn meets winter, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) are asking residents to take extra precautions to keep their community safe.

Last week they launched a campaign asking for the support of the public in educating young people about the consequences of starting bonfires and setting off fireworks.

And now the Service have asked residents to take extra steps to secure their wheelie bins, after a spike in incidents of them being set alight in anti-social behaviour.

This issue is something not only being recognised as a problem by the fire service but also by Local Councils and Housing Associations across Tyne and Wear.

The latest figures show the number of wheelie bin fires attended between October 2021 and September 2023 totals 1,750.

But they have also revealed a quarter of those figures were posted in the months of October and November – the busiest time of the year for the fire service over the Bonfire period.

This activity was recently reinforced earlier this month when youths set fire to rubbish in Newbiggin Hall and residents reported they were gathering wheelie bins to add to the blaze.

Station Manager Jonathan Ramanayake, from TWFRS’s Prevention and Education team, has now asked for the public support.

He said: “We don’t set out to spoil the party for anyone as we love to see people having fun with their friends and family.

“But we do want to ensure that people are staying safe and steering clear of danger, where a fire could potentially occur or where someone’s life could be put at risk.

“Wheelie bins are present at every household across the region, and even one fire involving them is one too many.

“We would always urge people to bring in their bins after they’ve been emptied and keep them in a safe place out of the reach of temptation.

“The people who are fire setting aren’t only jeopardising the lives of others but they could also be putting their own life at risk, as the bins are highly flammable and let off poisonous fumes that could prove fatal if inhaled.

“Also, if we are answering a call relating to a deliberate fire, then that is taking a crew away from dealing with a potentially life-saving incident.

“If members of the public has any information to provide about the people causing the incidents in their local community then they can report the details anonymously through Firestoppers.”

In the recent incident in Newbiggin Hall, a crew from West Denton Community Fire Station went to extinguish a deliberate rubbish fire in the West Thorp area on October 16th.

When the firefighters arrived at the scene they were subjected to a barrage of verbal abuse by a group of youths from the local area.

One of the crew members said that he saw “…a concerned resident rounding up his neighbours’ wheelie bins as he told our driver that the youths were collecting them to use on the fire.”

The latest figures show the number of wheelie bin fires attended between October 2021 and September 2023 (districts listed in alphabetical order)

Gateshead / 190
Newcastle / 731
North Tyneside / 192
South Tyneside / 122
Sunderland / 515

Total: 1,750

Here are a couple more pointers to consider:  On bin collection day please don’t stockpile rubbish in refuse bags alongside your bins as they could become targets for ASB.

If you have any bulky waste to get rid of then please don’t fly-tip the contents onto the neighbouring streets or surrounding areas, please take the items to your local Household Recycling Centre.

If worried residents are aware of any anti-social behaviour-related incidents, they should call 999 in the event of an emergency and they will receive a response from the Fire Service.

But if they have any important information which may help identify those individuals responsible then they can call Firestoppers anonymously on 0800 169 5558.

During the Darker Nights campaign the Fire Service will be working closely with other strategic partners including all of the local councils in Tyne and Wear, the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness, Nexus and regional housing associations such as Your Homes Newcastle, Karbon Homes and Gentoo.

Firefighters have been carrying out visits to schools and colleges, sharing messages about the consequences of anti-social behaviour and the dangers of playing with fireworks or setting fire.

Please stay safe this Bonfire Night.