Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is asking people to take extra care with camp fires, bonfires and barbecues over the coming days, as a new Amber wildfire alert has been issued.
The warning coincides with a prolonged period of hot, dry weather, meaning that any fire could spread quickly and more easily due to the conditions. There have been a number of large heath fires across the Service area in recent years, causing devastation to heath, woodland and wildlife, and many of them could have been avoided with more care.
Group Manager Brad Stevens said: “While the sunshine is very welcome after the recent rains, it does mean an increased risk of wildfires starting. If you’re visiting our heathlands, woodlands or countryside, please avoid having a campfire and bring a picnic, not a barbecue – just a few simple steps can make a real difference.”
He added: “We’d also remind people to take care if having a barbecue or bonfire at home. All too often, we see property destroyed when an initially small fire suddenly gets out of control. Never leave a bonfire or barbecue unattended, and site them well away from fences, trees or buildings.”
Anyone enjoying the outdoors over the coming days is asked to follow these fire safety top tips:
- Don’t have barbecues or campfires on heath or in open spaces; the risk of a fire starting is too great. Barbecues and campfires are actually banned in many country parks, campsites and open spaces, so make sure you check what is and isn’t allowed where you are, and follow the rules.
- An easy way to stay safe is to #BringAPicnicNotABBQ – and share messages with that hashtag on your social media.
- Extinguish cigarettes properly, and don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows – take your litter home.
- If you see a fire in the countryside, get to a safe place and call 999 to report it immediately to the Fire & Rescue Service. Please provide as much detail as possible about location and if necessary, use the What3Words app and wait for help to arrive.
- Landowners and land managers are advised to be prepared for fires, where possible, and ensure that fire breaks are cut and well maintained, with any cut grasses and vegetation removed from the site.
- If you’re having a bonfire at home, have a garden hose to hand in case it starts to get out of control, and never use petrol or another accelerant to get it started.
- Barbecue coals and fire pits stay hot for hours, so douse them with water and don’t dispose of the remnants until you can be absolutely sure they are cold.
More information on enjoying outdoors but staying fire safe can be found at www.dwfire.org.uk/safety-outdoors