Warning following rise in outdoor fires

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Click here for a PDF of the Fire Safety Outdoors leaflet.

24 April 2011

Firefighters are urging people to be on their guard during the current spell of hot weather.

Vegetation is so dry that an ember from a bonfire or a carelessly discarded cigarette can quickly cause a devastating fire.

The warning follows a rise in the number of outdoor fires, including a number that have gone on to damage people's homes and other buildings.

There have been more than 120 outdoor fires so far this month, excluding deliberate fires involving vehicles, compared with 21 during the freezing month of December 2010.

Group Manager Chris Bailey, who heads Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's commmuniy safety team, said: “Every year, fire destroys thousands of acres of countryside. These fires can spread very quickly and can be devastating to wildlife and property.

“Most people who enjoy the great outdoors treat it with respect, but it only takes one careless person to start a fire.

"You don't have to be in a field or a park to cause a fire that can lead to serious damage - it can happen in your own back garden."

Chris offered the following safety tips:

Grass and forest fires

Never throw cigarette ends out of car window – they could start a fire and ruin surrounding countryside.

Don’t leave bottles or glass in woodlands. Sunlight shining through glass can start a fire. Take them home or put them in a recycling bin.

Camp fires and bonfires

Don’t light a fire without the landowner’s permission

If you must have an open fire:

                It should be downwind, at least 10 metres from your tent.

                Clear dry vegetation and leaves to form a circle of earth around the
                fire.

                Build a stack that will collapse inwards while burning.

                Don't leave fires unattended, and make sure that fires are fully  
                extinguished after use.

Reporting a fire

Don't be tempted to investigate. Leave the area as quickly as possible and ring 999 for the fire and rescue service.

Try to give the exact location. If necessary, give a map reference.

If this is not possible a landmark such as a farm or pub will help us to locate you.

Do not return unless the fire and rescue service tells you that it is safe to do so.

The Countryside Code

Make sure you follow the Countryside Code, which contains advice for the public and landowners. It has information about rights, responsibilities and liabilities and how we all have a duty to protect the countryside. To find out more, visit www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk