Bin the bonfires, plead firemen

MORE THAN €1 million was spent cleaning up Hallowe’en bonfires and fireworks last year, Dublin city chiefs revealed.

And irresponsible businesses in the capital were criticised yesterday for helping children stockpile for the big night this year.

“Hallowe’en is not an excuse for illegal dumping and we are horrified to hear of businesses providing tyres, old furniture and other waste materials to young people for bonfires in recent weeks,” said Lord Mayor Paddy Bourke.

Firemen were called out 727 times around Dublin last Hallowe’en as fires blazed out of control and properties caught fire.

City Hall chiefs yesterday launched a safety DVD, which is being sent to all primary and post primary schools this week.

Firemen sounded a warning to parents ahead of the big night in two weeks’ time.

“People build bonfires too close to houses, to electric cables and also make them too big. Our message is for parents to know exactly where their children are from the hours of darkness,” said Dublin fire brigade district officer Tom Daly.

Dozens of children were left with serious burns last year, explained fellow firefighter and paramedic Brian Burke.

“We saw a lot of hand injuries from fireworks that weren’t properly manufactured and obviously bought on the black market. There were also facial injuries from explosions within bonfires from gas cylinders,” he added.

The Dublin paramedic said most of the children badly injured were aged between 10 and 12.

Gerry Geraghty, a manager with Dublin City Council, said huge damage was done to community facilities annually.

Aside from the pollutants emitted from bonfires, football pitches and parklands were left damaged. It can take up to 19 months for burnt earth to fully recover.

“We’re asking businesses and households not to take part because of the cost to the city and severe danger of bonfires,” said Mr Geraghty.

He emphasised the strain on fire services with more than 700 emergency calls answered on Hallowe’en last year, compared to the usual 80 a day.

* Report bonfire stockpiling to 1800 251500.

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