Welcome from the Chief
Put safety first in the sunshine
This month I am highlighting the dangers associated with some common summertime fires, as many residents may be spending more time out and about in the countryside or contemplating getting out their barbecues and dusting off their patio furniture.
Fires can destroy acres of countryside
During warmer weather, the grass and vegetation is generally dry, which means if you accidentally start a fire outdoors it can spread very quickly, destroying everything in its path.
Add a light summer breeze to the equation and the fire will spread even more rapidly.
Tying up resources
We attended over 20 incidents involving grass and gorse fires in just one weekend over Easter, including a large mountain fire in Blaenau Ffestiniog where around twenty properties were evacuated.
Many of these fires caused multiple calls to the control room from concerned members of the public. Each small fire has the potential to tie up resources and prevent us from attending other life threatening incidents elsewhere.
A flicked cigarette from a car window, a barbecue that sets fire to a hedge, or a bonfire left unattended could start a blaze that destroys acres of countryside, crops and wildlife.
Deliberate fires in Wales provide a clear and present danger to our environment, economy and communities.
The number of deliberately set grass fires in Wales had dramatically reduced since 2015; the Strategic Arson Reduction Board crediting the collaborative approach of its multi-agency task force, Operation Dawns Glaw, with the success.
However, due to substantially less rainfall during the early months of the year and a significantly dryer summer, we saw deliberate grass fires rise by 75% last year.
Despite these statistics the task force is determined to continue in their efforts to reduce deliberate grass fires in Wales. Planning has been underway since January in order to prepare for what could be another dry, hot summer.
Remember – deliberate grass fires are a serious crime and will be dealt with by the full force of the law. If you see anyone deliberately setting a fire, call the Police on 101 or contact Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.
If the fire starts closer to home, it could destroy your garden, spread to your house and endanger the lives of those inside.
Barbecues can be enjoyable but you need to keep safety in mind when cooking outdoors – keep barbecues well away from pets and children and make sure that you dispose of the ashes safely.
Don’t drink and cook
Many will also be enjoying a few drinks out and about as well as at home in the garden during the lighter evenings – and I would urge that you avoid cooking after drinking, especially should you feel peckish after returning home after a night out. The best way to kill off the hunger pangs but stay safe yourself is to get a takeaway or prepare a sandwich before you go out.
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You can also access a wide range of information through our website – www.nwales-fireservice.org.uk.