With the Easter holidays underway and the May bank holidays fast approaching, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding the public to take care when out and about.
When good weather combines with children being off school, it’s natural that families will want to enjoy the sunshine, especially in our beautiful local countryside. However, it only takes a moment of thoughtlessness to lead to a fire starting.
Gaynor Mant, from the Prevention department, said: “If you decide to have 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 our crews for property fires and other emergencies. The damage to local wildlife is also significant, often destroying ecosystems that have taken years to build up.”
She added: “Barbecues and bonfires can get out of control very easily. If you are burning 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 accelerate. Always call 999 if you think the fire is spreading.”
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 – the Service often receives emergency calls from people who can see lots of smoke, and it helps to know where this could be a controlled burn.
- Ensure that you know your location or a landmark so you can direct firefighters to the scene.
- 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