Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding people to take care around heathland and open spaces during this warmer weather, as the heatwave the UK is experiencing means a heightened risk of wildfires.
DWFRS Wildfire Tactical Advisor Andy Elliott said: “With a period of hot, dry weather being forecast, we would urge people to take real care when enjoying the sunshine in our beautiful countryside. If you do want a campfire or barbecue, please make sure that you’re in a safe area and that the ashes are fully extinguished and damped down before you leave. Large wildfires are thankfully rare but, when they do occur, they take a great deal of resources to bring under control, which impacts the availability of appliances for property fires and other emergencies. The damage to local wildlife is also significant, often destroying ecosystems that have taken years to build up.”
Group Manager Richard Coleman added “Bonfires are also common in the summer months, we have recently dealt with a higher than normal number of fires involving BBQ’s and bonfires as they can get out of control very easily. If you are burning off garden waste in the garden please site any bonfire well away from buildings, fences, trees and garden structures and have a garden hose to hand in case the fire starts to get out of control. If a fire does get out of control, please call 999.”
The Service has the following advice for enjoying the outdoors safely:
- Avoid open fires in the countryside. If you must have a fire, make sure that you’re in a designated safe area.
- Put out cigarettes and other smoking materials properly before you leave your vehicle.
- Do not throw cigarette ends out of your vehicle. They could start a fire and destroy surrounding countryside.
- Site bonfires well away from buildings, fences, trees and garden structures.
- Have a garden hose to hand in case the fire starts to get out of control.
- Never use flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin to start a bonfire.
- Don’t leave bottles or glass in woodlands, as sunlight shining through the glass can cause a fire to start. Take the items home, or put them in a waste or recycling bin.
- If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately. Do not try to tackle a fire yourself; usually they can’t be put out with a bucket of water. Please call the fire service and leave the area as soon as possible.
- If you’re intending to have a large bonfire, please advise Fire Control on 0306 799 0019 or use the form on our website – we often receive emergency calls from people who can see lots of smoke, and it helps us to know where this could be a controlled burn.
- Ensure that you know your location or a landmark so you can direct the fire service.
- Make sure you know the Countryside Code — www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code
More information can be found at www.dwfire.org.uk/heath-fires