Department of Environmental Health watchdogs are warning Easter campers that they need to have a $25 permit to build fires on the beaches.
According to a press release issued by the department on Tuesday, applicants who want to build a fire on a beach should send a letter to the director of the Department of Environmental Health seeking permission for the bonfire at least 48 hours beforehand.
Members of the public are prohibited from burning waste or lighting bonfires in parks or beaches unless prior approval is granted by the Department of Environmental Health.
The department advised that the application letter should include the name and contact number of the person, proposed time, date, location and duration of the bonfire, along with a fee of $25.
According to the department, it is empowered under the Public Health Miscellaneous Fees Regulations to charge a fee of $25 for the processing of records and other documents. The fee is solely administrative, according to Environmental Health public relations officer Stacey Anderson.
Campfires are common sights during the traditional Easter camping season in Grand Cayman.
The Department of Environmental Health also issued some guidelines for building fires on the local beaches and parks, warning that failing to properly extinguish fires can be dangerous to other beach users and animals. In 2015, volunteers discovered the charred remains of dozens of tiny turtle hatchlings on a Grand Cayman beach – the cause: a beach bonfire.
Putting sand on burning coals or embers does not work, as the buried coals heat the sand, like an oven. The safest way to douse the embers is with water, the department advises. Also, hot embers could ignite vegetation, threaten nearby buildings and burn the feet of people walking along the sand the next day if they are not properly put out.
The Department of Environmental Health advises that campers choose a safe location when deciding where to build their campfires – at least 25 feet from structures, vehicles or trees.
“Use a base made of metal, never pile firewood too high; avoid using flammable liquid and never burn rubbish,” the department stated in its press release.
Campers are advised to keep a watchful eye on all fires and ensure they have an extinguisher or water nearby in case the fire gets out of control. If that happens, notify the fire department immediately.
Even after the fire is out, all waste generated because of the fire must be collected and properly disposed of in a sanitary manner. The campsite must be restored to its original state before campers exit the site, the DEH stated.
To apply by mail for permission to build a bonfire, write to DEH Director, Department of Environmental Health, P.O. Box 1820, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands KY1-1109, or email [email protected] For more information on bonfire and camping safety, visit the Environmental Health website at www.deh.gov.ky or its Facebook page at DEH Cayman Islands.