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Dublin Fire Brigade dealing with 'huge increase' in callouts to bonfires compared to last year

Station Officer Darren O’Connor said firefighters have had to deal with hundreds of fires in recent weeks.

Dublin Fire Brigade officers responding to a bonfire callout.
Dublin Fire Brigade officers responding to a bonfire callout.
Image: Dublin Fire Brigade

DUBLIN FIRE STATIONS have been experiencing a “huge” increase in the number of calls in the run up to Halloween, compared to this time last year. 

Station Officer Darren O’Connor said firefighters have had to deal with hundreds of fires in the past six weeks. 

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said bonfires can cause serious damage to the environment, property and local amenties. 

“Certainly we have seen a huge increase in the number of calls that we have received in the past six week period. We have probably seen a 300% increase on this time last year in fires that would be specifically tagged in our control centre as bonfires.

“Other fires get tagged as bonfires and we have seen a massive increase in these and have attended nearly 700 of these in the past six weeks so it has been extremely busy for fire stations in the run up to Halloween.” 

O’Connor said bonfires are “extremely dangerous” and release a huge amount of toxins which harm the environment. 

He said Dublin Fire Brigade were appealing to people not to engage in lighting bonfires but said he realised some people may do so.   

“Let’s be pragmatic about it – kids are excited about Halloween and by fireworks. My advice is that if you want to light a bonfire – keep it small and make sure you have a fire blanket or a bucket of water close by. Don’t use accelerants such as petrol or fire to light the fire.”   

“Keep the kids well back and make sure their costumes are not flammable and not made out of plastic.”  

Meanwhile, people been urged to microchip their pets so they can be returned easily if they run away from home due to noise from fireworks. 

Gillian Bird, the Head of Education and Media at the DSPCA, told the same programme:

“We still have dogs and cats out there that are not micro-chipped, which means that if they do get lost – and they can easily slip their collars or just run off and get scared – it makes it very difficult for charities to reunite them with their owners.”

“It is important that we keep them indoors and safe,” she added.     

Anecdotal reports suggest firework season began earlier than usual this year – with residents reporting widespread firework use across Dublin since early August. 

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Operation Tombola, a Garda operation cracking down on the sale and supply of fireworks, was launched early last month. 

Gardaí brought forward that launch date due to a marked increase in the number of people setting off fireworks. It usually runs for the whole month of October. 

Last month, in a case that drew widespread media coverage, a 17-year-old boy in Dublin blew the top off his index finger and almost his entire right thumb while setting off a firework. 

The sale, possession and use of fireworks in the Republic of Ireland is illegal and it is also illegal to possess any fireworks that may have been legally purchased outside the jurisdiction and brought into the State. 

Gardai have urged people with information relating to the illegal sale of fireworks to contact their local garda station or call the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.

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