Date: 25th May, 2018
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is working with partners to remind people to take care around heathland.
The recent spell of dry weather has seen an increase in heath fires and, with the Bank Holiday and half term week approaching, it is likely that more people will be out and about enjoying the countryside.
The Service is now highlighting the potential risks of wildfire, as are colleagues in Dorset Police, the Forestry Commission and Dorset County Council.
Andy Elliott, UK Wildfire Tactical Advisor, said: “Every year seems to be a little dryer and warmer, and this is leading to an increase in the number and intensity of wildfires in our countryside and urban fringes. The public can help us greatly by reporting fires as quickly as possible and giving us an accurate address or location. It is also important that they move to a place of safety as quickly as possible.”
He added: “Every year, wildfire destroys thousands of acres of countryside, and although some are started deliberately, most of them are due to carelessness. We are therefore reminding everyone to take particular care at this time of the year as the weather gets warmer. It’s only natural to want to go outdoors and enjoy it with family and friends, but it is also important to stay fire-aware when out and about.”
Please follow these top tips to keep heathland fire safe:
- Extinguish cigarettes properly, don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows – take your litter home.
- Avoid open fires in the countryside, and always have them in safe designated areas.
- If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately to the Fire & Rescue Service on 999. Early detection can prevent it from developing into a large wildfire incident.
- When calling 999, make sure you are in a safe place, note and provide the fire’s location with as much detail as you can, and then be ready to meet firefighters at the nearest road to direct them.
- Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water – leave the area as quickly as possible.
- Make sure you know the Countryside Code – www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code
Landowners and land managers are also advised, where possible, to be prepared for fires and ensure that fire breaks are cut and well maintained, with any cut grasses and vegetation removed from the site.
People are also warned to be extra cautious when lighting barbecues and bonfires:
- Only use barbecues in suitable and safe areas; never leave them unattended.
- Never use petrol, it can ignite quickly and soon get out of control. Only use approved lighting fuels.
- Make sure the fire or barbecue is downwind and at least 10 metres away from any buildings or structures.
- Clear dry vegetation, such as leaves, to form a circle of earth around the fire.
- Never leave fires unattended and make sure they are fully extinguished after use.
- If you have to burn vegetation or have a bonfire, please contact Fire Control on 0306 799 0019 first.
- If the conditions are particularly hot and dry, it is advised not to undertake controlled or prescribed burning.
More information can be found at www.dwfire.org.uk/heath-fires