Fire restrictions lifted

Witches Night bonfires can take place as planned

Temporary restrictions against open fires in Prague have been lifted. This clears the way for Witches Night bonfires on April 30 to go ahead as scheduled. The city also addressed what to do in the future regarding public events with fires during times of drought, and created rules for making exceptions.

Rain and falling temperatures on the evening of April 26 broke a warm and dry spell, and caused the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ) to revoke the drought warning it issued April 20. All fires, including cigarettes, flying lanterns, grills and steam trains, had been banned within the proximity of parks and forests.

Last year, Witches Night wasn’t so lucky and the bonfires were banned, much to the annoyance of families and local organizers, who stacked wood for fires but could not light it.

Separate from the ban being lifted, the city also changed the rules for such bans.
Fires for Witches Night might be allowed in the future, even if there is a drought warning.

The city, on April 26, adopted a new regulation at its extraordinary meeting setting conditions for securing fire protection at a time of increased fire risk. The original regulation regarding fires was adopted on May 24, 2016, and after three years, the city council has re-examined it mainly due to requests from the city districts for changes.

They city made the announcement that bonfires could go ahead even before the drought ban was lifted.

“Burning witches is a popular tradition, especially among children, and it is of course always sad when they are disappointed. That is why we decided this year, despite the drought, not to forbid the fires held by city districts. But we strongly urge everyone to abide by the basic safety rules and also to avoid fires in hazardous places,” Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Hlubuček (United Force for Prague) said.

For example, the existing legislation did not allow municipal districts to hold open fire events at the time of a declared fire risk, even though they had properly provided for fire supervision. The new regulation now includes a section that allows witch-burning events, but only if the organizer meets three conditions. First, they have to evaluate in advance the conditions with regard to the place, time and specifics of the activity and demonstrably set such measures to prevent fire.

Second, the organizer has to announce the intention to carry out the activity at the Regional Operational and Information Center of the Fire Rescue Service of the Capital City of Prague.

Third, the operator shall ensure the assistance of a fire brigade unit prior to the commencement of the activity, and shall follow the instructions of its commander.
“After previous experience from, for example, the witch burning season last year, we concluded that it is appropriate to amend the existing regulation,” City Councilor Hana Kordová Marvanová (United Force for Prague) said.

“Based on the suggestions made by the city districts, we have included in the regulation exceptions, where the distribution of fires is possible in certain places and when precisely defined conditions are met, even if there is an increased risk of fire. At the same time, the presence of the fire brigade unit is important,” she added.

A list of Witches Night events can be found here: prague.tv

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