Burning garbage illegal, says CIFS

| 23/04/2020 | 39 Comments
Cayman News Service
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Roy Charlton

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Fire Service (CIFS) is urging the public to take care with backyard bonfires following an increase in reports of fires in various neighbourhoods in recent weeks. Senior fire officers also reminded people that burning general waste on private property is prohibited by law. Burning garden waste is not illegal but people are still urged to try alternative options because of the health and safety issues of fires.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Roy Charlton said the fire service believes the increase in yard fires has been driven by the shelter-in-place order to suppress the spread of COVID-19.

“We understand that residents may have previously taken their own garden waste to the landfill or had it removed by landscapers and are now looking for alternative options to get rid of it,” he said. “Bonfires can become dangerous if not properly controlled but there are simple steps the public can follow to manage garden waste effectively and stay safe,” Charlton added.

Mulching or composting leaves is more environmentally-friendly than burning and can be used elsewhere in the garden. In addition, smoke from bonfires can impact people’s health, particularly for those with existing or underlying respiratory concerns, such as asthma or COVID-19. Small children and the elderly are more likely to be impacted by the effects of smoke.  

Charlton urged people to be considerate of surrounding neighbours as smoke can become a nuisance. Under windy conditions, a bonfire can also become dangerous and difficult to control. If residents do still choose to light a bonfire, they are advised of the following safety tips.

•       Only burn dry material as damp material causes more smoke

•       Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby in case emergencies

•       Don’t leave the bonfire unattended

•       Don’t use gas or any other fuels to get the fire going as it may get out of control quickly

•       Don’t burn anything close to your house, shed, fence or under electrical wires and cables

•       Don’t burn aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint. Many produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode causing injury

Most importantly, residents should call 911 in the event of an emergency.

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Category: Crime, environmental health, Fire Service, Health

Comments (39)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    That’s rich…why then does the DEH Minister allow so many repeated breaches of landfill bonfire rules if there is the possibility of negligence claims…that would be some kind of idiocy…could you imagine such a person being appointed to that role?!?

  2. Once upon a time in a perfect world says:

    So does CUC, all the city water plants on the island. What about backyard BBQs & smokers?
    Do you use, bleach, ammonia, oven cleaner, air fresheners, scented oils, candles, aerosol disinfectants, bug spray, incense? Your indoor air quality is negatively affected by all these and more. So should we stop all this?

    A bit of truth & sarcasm does not affect air quality.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You can just write to curfew time and get a one off exemption to go the landfill

  4. Anonymous says:

    Open the public drop off area at the landfill! There is no reason for it to be closed. This cannot be classified as “social distancing” problem and if properly supervised, should not be a problem.

    This i ridiculous restriction jeopardizes the public health because it forces people to resort to burning. Air pollution has been proved to be a serious issue for COVID 19 patients and the number of backyard fires burning on Grand Cayman is ruining our air quality.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s too dry and dangerous for fires right now. Not to mention it’s a smoke hazard. Most of us live in urban areas, not the country. If you are burning your yard waste in George Town, for example, you can be sure you are being a nuisance to your neighbours. Section 7 (2) (j) of the Public Health (Garbage and Refuse Disposal) Regulations (2011 Revision): any “furnace, chimney, fireplace or other place (waste heaps, etc.) from which is emitted smoke or other unconsumed combustible matter in such quantity or in such manner as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance” is considered a “statutory nuisance”.

    • Anonymous says:

      CNS, the Regulations poster @12:09 cites are not in your library ( at least not the bit cited)but the Public Health Law ( 2002 revision) is and section 7 ( 2) (j) says much the same as the poster quotes except it specifically mentions “bonfires”. Can anyone, preferably a lawyer, clarify whether burning of leaves and other yard waste is allowable or not? Is it ok for the Fire Dept to say “ if residents do still choose to light a bonfire” etc? Should they be giving people a choice?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Well atleast he said you can still burn the weeds.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The burning will continue until Alden listens to the people. In fact, now we’re going to do it more often.

  8. Anonymous says:


  9. Anonymous says:

    Why wont DEH pick it up then?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Get the garbage guys to pick it up. Problem solved. Come on JonJon sort it out.

  11. Anonymous says:

    When DEH starts properly picking up my rubbish then I’ll stop burning it.

  12. Anonymous says:


  13. Anonymous says:

    Someone should tell that to the dump.

  14. Smokey the Bear says:

    Quote the Law & Section that supports his statement.

    • Anonymous says:

      Section 7 (2) (j) of the Public Health Law ( see CNS Library) says that a “bonfire” is a “statutory nuisance” and the definition to the Law defines “nuisance” in a very precise way as to suggest it should not take place because of negative impact on, for example, health and safety. Is Mr Charlton really correct in saying burning garden waste is ok?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Tell that to my neighbors! They constantly burn garbage in their yard and this has been way long before Coronavirus.

    • Anonymous says:

      One of my neighbours is a police officer and his wife is constantly burning huge piles of garbage.

  16. Crab Claw says:

    Nothing wrong with burning some leaves and brush.

    Soil fertility can increase after low intensity fires since fire chemically converts nutrients bound in dead plant tissues and the soil surface to more available forms or the fire indirectly increases mineralization rates through its impacts on soil microorganisms (Schoch and Binkley 1986).

    • Anonymous says:

      You are 100% correct. Burned vegetable matter produces potash (potassium) which is one of the key elements that enables plant growth. It’s the “K” in NPK, which you can see labeled on the back of packaged fertilizers and soil.

      N: nitrogen, from animal excrement and flesh remains
      P: phosphorus, naturally occurring in animal bones
      K: potassium: burned plants and trees

      Destruction is necessary for growth, they are opposite sides of the spectrum called existence.


    • Anonymous says:

      On behalf of all people with asthma, please, please stop.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is also why forestry experts do controlled burns. It nourishes the soil and gives lightning less chance causing rapid forest fire spread.

  17. Elvis says:

    Hold on…..They burn it at the dump every week lol

  18. Anonymous says:

    Well said Roy….if you said it.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Too bad. The brush fires will be on Alden. No valid reason our gardeners shouldn’t be allowed to come and work. Just like the pool guys.

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