Louth County Council Fire and Rescue has issued an appeal in the run up to Halloween urging members of the public not to supply any waste material to persons who do not hold a valid waste collection permit.
Louth Fire and Rescue Services incur substantial costs at Halloween in responding to bonfire related incidents, as well as cleaning up after bonfires that take place.
The uncontrolled burning of waste, particularly in bonfires, is illegal under the Air Pollution Act, 1987, and The Waste Management Acts, 1996-2011. The burning of waste also releases toxic pollutants into the air which are known to be damaging to public health and the environment.
“Bonfires are an illegal, dangerous and costly tradition,” explained Eamon Woulfe, Louth Chief Fire Officer.
He added: “Bonfires are often built close to houses and other property presenting risks to personal safety and property. Halloween is one the busiest times of the year for the fire services and responding to bonfire call outs puts a strain on existing resources. I would like people to be aware of the fire safety hazards that arise from illegal bonfires, where the burning of highly combustible materials may lead to serious injuries or death.”
The Fire Service is advising members of public not to buy, use or supply fireworks. A firework includes all those devices which burn and explode to give a loud noise and a visual effect – basically a typical, traditional firework. Bangers are also defined as fireworks.
It is illegal to possess any fireworks that may have been legally purchased outside Ireland and brought back into this country. Many of the fireworks that are offered for sale illegally here have not passed any quality control tests and are possibly defective. Gardaí will confiscate any fireworks found in the possession of people who in turn will be liable to prosecution.
In addition there is a specific offence under law for throwing any lit firework at a person or property. A person can be fined up to €10,000 for possession of unlicensed fireworks and for igniting, throwing, or possession of unlicensed fireworks with intent to sell or supply, the penalties can be up to €10,000 and five years in jail. The only exception to these laws is where a professional fireworks display is authorised under licence.
According to Sheila Broderick, Louth Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer: “Illegal fireworks may be manufactured without safety standards and can cause serious damage to users, particularly children. Parents should monitor their children and ensure they do not play with fireworks. Throughout the country, every year children end up tragically injured and often scarred for life, after using illegal fireworks.”
Most fireworks related injuries are hand injuries and they tend to be caused by children lighting bangers/fireworks and then holding them for too long. Fireworks have been known to cause extensive damage to children’s eyes and hands, including fingers being amputated and burn related injuries.