Sometimes when mass protests are ongoing, the protesters set some rubber tires on fire so that they produce smoke and unpleasant smell. But what's the purpose of doing so and why it is considered serious action by the government?

  • 1
    Because it attracts attention. End of story. It is just another form of advertising. Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 13:28
  • It also is a barrier against all police on foot, horse or normal cars.
    – user45891
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 15:33
  • 3
    some people might find that burning the tires is the best way to get rid of them. They also break the windows to create jobs in the glass industry.
    – Vincent
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 3:31
  • 1
    2 answers and NOBODY cited any subversive manuals yet??,
    – user4012
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 12:38
  • Most of these protestors just want to burn or destroy some things and properties. tires are inflammable and easy to find and therefore becomes the no.1 choice Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 22:43

3 Answers 3


Burning tires produces thick black smoke that can be used as a signal to other protestors, and provides a means of communication that a government can't easily disrupt. An organized protest that can communicate is far more dangerous than a general unruly mob. The Smoke also makes it harder for law enforcement to use helicopters to gather intelligence and monitor the situation. Burning tires makes almost every aspect of suppressing a protest harder.

  • I would substitute the word "effective" for "dangerous" above. An uncontrolled and unpredictable mob can be far more dangerous than a predictable organization.
    – O.M.Y.
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 22:53

Because tire fires are very hard to put out. So the "message" so to speak sticks around even after the protesters have been rounded up by riot police.

It's an unbelievable environmental pollutant and ongoing fire hazard, hence the seriousness.


The thick black smoke from burning tires makes the scene look much worse than it really is.

Burning tires makes the opposition panic, giving protesters a psychological advantage.

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