Don't burn me

Remember, remember it's not just November -
whenever you're clearing your plot,
there's no real reason, to act like a Heathen;
burn animals! You should be shot.

The image on this page is used with permission of © Volunteer Wildfire Services in South Africa.

COPYRIGHT WVS image tracked

On standby to respond to fires and emergencies 24 hours a day for 365 days of the year - the Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) have been combating dangerous and often deadly runaway fires and has, to date, achieved over 39,000 active fire fighting hours between its members and stations. These extraordinary people give their time and energy to protect lives, property and South Africa's natural heritage. Most have day jobs, some are students, others run their own companies - but all are dedicated, motivated and highly-trained.

It says a lot that these amazing people asked Saatchi and Saatchi to create this fabulous image of a hedgehog to warn people about the damage fires can do. Whether a carelessly discarded cigarette, still hot barbeque embers dumped in a hedgerow, or a deliberately set bonfire, lives are put at risk.

Building a bonfire

If you are a fan of setting light to things, try thinking ahead. Before you apply a match:

  • either move the entire heap to a new spot or use poles to lift it and check underneath for animals
  • warn your neighbours - they are much less likely to complain
  • light the bonfire at a time least likely to affect your neighbours - eg not on a warm day when people will be in their garden
  • only burn dry material not damp, which causes more smoke
  • build the bonfire away from sheds, fences and trees
  • check there are no cables - like telephone wires - above the bonfire
  • don't use petrol or paraffin to get the fire going - it may get out of control quickly
  • as a rule of thumb the bonfire should be a minimum of five times its height from property

Bonfire safety tips

Once the bonfire is lit, make sure you:

  • keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby -in case of emergencies
  • don't leave the bonfire unattended
  • keep children and pets away from the bonfire
  • don't throw any fireworks into the fire
  • don't burn aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint - many produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode, causing injury

Once the bonfire has died down, spray the embers with water to stop it reigniting.

Getting rid of your garden waste without a bonfire

You can get rid of your garden waste without making a bonfire. Most garden waste, like grass cuttings and leaves, can be recycled by composting.