Working in Partership to Help Promote Safe Controlled Burning

Posted 07/02/2012 14:10:36

Firefighters are working in partnership with a conservation specialist to help ensure farmers in the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley undertake their controlled burning in the safest and most effective way possible while helping to protect and conserve their landscape.

Nick Critchley, Moorland Field Officer for the Heather and Hillforts Project works for Denbighshire County Council and his role involves caring for the natural and historic heritage of the moorlands in the Clwydian range and the Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

He has joined forces with North Wales Fire and Rescue Service for the latest phase of their 'Call before you burn!' campaign, visiting livestock markets across the region to ensure landowners take on board some basic safety procedures and notify the fire and rescue service when conducting their burn.

The Heather and Grass Burning Code states that burning is allowed only between the 1st of October and the 31st of March in upland areas and the 1st of November and the 15th of March elsewhere.

Many farmers will now be taking the opportunity towards the end of the period to undertake controlled burning of heather, grass and gorse on their land.

Nick and staff from the Service visited Mold market today and will also be visiting markets in Ruthin and St Asaph over the next few weeks giving away specially designed air fresheners branded with the controlled burning number and leaflets reminding landowners how to conduct a safe controlled burn. Nick will also have to hand some heather burning equipment to demonstrate to farmers.

Firefighters will also be returning to visit the markets in Gaerwen, Bryncir and Dolgellau before the end of the burning season.

Nick said: "We work with local farmers in the area to help them prepare for and undertake controlled burning of heather moorland. Controlled burning is an excellent management tool - heather is kept young and vigorous by controlled burning. If left unburned, it eventually grows long and lank, reducing its nutritional value. However, uncontrolled fires will often burn too fiercely and can set fire to the peat in which the heather grows. Not only can these fires be very difficult to quench, but where the peat is burnt, heather and other seeds are destroyed; plant life is lost and erosion will follow - it will take many years for the ground to recover.

"A mosaic of young and old heather provides excellent grazing for sheep, as well as a plentiful supply of food and shelter for ground nesting birds such as the rare black grouse.

"By working together with the fire and rescue service we have the opportunity to connect with a large number of farmers and talk to them about how we can work together to conduct a safe and effective burn."

Gareth Griffiths, Senior Fire Safety Manager, added: "We have had an excellent response to our 'Call before you burn!' campaign and are thrilled to be working in partnership with Nick and Denbighshire County Council on the latest phase - by joining forces and visiting local markets together we will be able to make face to face contact with landowners to get our messages across.

"We are urging all landowners undertaking controlled burning to notify us by calling our control room on 01745 535805. This will help avoid false alarms and crews being sent out unnecessarily as well as ensuring we are ready to respond in the event of a burn getting out of control.

"We are also asking these landowners to be responsible when it comes to controlled burning. The fires are set in areas where access is extremely difficult and water supply is limited - should the fire get out of control, this can place tremendous pressure on resources, with firefighters tied up for a considerable length of time trying to bring them under control. These fires can put homes, livestock and the lives of crews and residents at risk as firefighters are kept from attending genuine emergencies."

Farmers are asked to follow the guidelines below if they are planning a controlled burn:

- Ensure they have sufficient people and equipment to control the fire
- Check wind direction and ensure there is no risk to property, roads and wildlife
- If a fire gets out of control contact the fire service immediately giving details of location and access
- It is illegal to leave a fire unattended or to have too few people to control it. - Always ensure a fire is completely out before you leave it and check next day to ensure it has not reignited."

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service is visiting the following markets on the following dates:

Dolgellau Market - Fri Feb 9th
Gaerwen Market - Feb 21st
Bryncir Market - 5th March
St Asaph Market -15th March
Llanrwst Market - Date & Time TBC
Ruthin Market - Date & Time TBC

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