WILDFIRES - KEY MESSAGES
There has been little rain over the last few weeks and the land is dry and the risk of wildfire is high.
The bank holiday weekend will mean the countryside will be busy with walkers and campers.
Please be careful not to start a wildfire and get to a safe place if you see one and call 999 Fire and Rescue Service straight away.
To avoid wildfire
If you are in the countryside or forest:
· Put out cigarettes and never throw cigarette ends out of cars.
· Only use barbecues in safe areas and never leave them unattended.
· Ensure that barbecues are fully put out and cold before emptying them.
· Be careful with campfires and avoid using them during dry spells
· Do not leave bottles or glass behind as sunlight shining through glass can start a fire.
· Follow Leave No Trace and Country Code outdoor ethics
If you see a fire:
· If you see a fire in the countryside or forest report it immediately to the Fire & Rescue Service 999
· Get to a safe place
· Do not attempt to tackle fires that cannot be put out with a bucket of water
· Use a camera if safe to do so
· If you see someone setting fires report it to the PSNI 999
What are wildfires?
- Wildfires are unplanned or uncontrolled fires in the countryside or open areas in towns and cities. They often spread quickly through plants that are dry and easy to burn such as gorse and heather.
- They can also spread into or start in forests and woodland
- Wildfires can quickly get out of control, spread rapidly, change direction and are extremely dangerous.
- Fire can be used by landowners to improve grazing if carefully planned, properly managed, in the right conditions and at the right time of year (1 September to 14 April). These are not wildfires – unless they get out of control.
Wildfires are not ‘natural’
- They are almost always started by humans - sometimes deliberately. This is called arson
- Sometimes caused by people being careless – for example cigarettes, campfires or barbeques
Wildfires put lives at risk
· They could result in tragedy
· Those in the line of the fire are at risk, including those setting the fire, walking or camping and local residents.
· They endanger the firefighters who tackle them.
· They deprive communities of quick access to emergency services which may be essential for house fires or road traffic collisions where every second could make the difference between life and death.
Wildfires cost everyone
· They cost the whole community as well as businesses that provide much needed employment.
· Between 2005 and 2010 £35 million was spent on fighting wildfires alone.
· They require special equipment and a lot of people to fight them.
· They can destroy valuable timber
· They can increase the treatment costs for drinking water
· Farmers may lose livestock or grazing lands
· Fires and their blackened remains can put off visitors to some of our most popular places and in turn damage local businesses.
· They damage and destroy essential ecosystem services that the land provides
Wildfires destroy our wildlife and landscape
· How they look and the plants and wildlife in them
· Nests and the young of birds that nest on the ground are destroyed
· Native trees and shrubs are destroyed
· Mammals such as red squirrels and pine martins lose their forest homes
· Small animals like the common lizard are killed
· They damage peatland that is important as a carbon store to combat climate change
· Rich biodiversity including rare plants, insects and animals
· Landscapes are less attractive until they recover
· The countryside is less enjoyable for people to visit
Wildfires are illegal
· Unless carefully planned and strictly controlled
· Deliberate setting of wildfires is a criminal offence.
Wildfires - put a STOP to them
If you are a landowner:
· Follow guidance from DARD, UFU and NIFRS on controlled burning to manage vegetation, follow codes of practice and adhere to all legal requirements including notifications.
If you are a parent or if you work with young people:
· Make sure that they understand that fire can be extremely dangerous and unpredictable.
· Explain how serious the consequences are of starting a fire.
· Make sure that they know it is illegal.
· “Lighting a wee fire can be a BIG mistake”