Published April 2, 2021 at 9:00
With Easter half term upon us and lockdown restrictions easing allowing social gatherings outdoors, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) is preparing for the possibilities of wildfires. LFRS is keen to encourage people to be a “good egg” and act responsibly to keep themselves and the surrounding countryside safe.
From 1st March to 31st May 2020, LFRS were called to 78 wildfire incidents, which alarmingly is an 11% increase from 2019. Rossendale had the highest number of incidents due to the vast scale of moorland, with 27 wildfires reported in 2020. We hope that if people follow our wildfire prevention advice, we will attend less wildfires in Rossendale in this year.
Neil Shaw Chief Executive from Rossendale Borough Council said: “It’s great that we have so much beautiful moorland around Rossendale for people to enjoy and we’d encourage people to get out in the open and fresh air, but they must also make sure that they do so safely. The consequences of negligent behaviour and carelessness can be catastrophic, and its important people are aware of this and the potential damage that can be done. So, we’re asking people not to have barbeques or campfires, to make sure they take all their litter home and not to discard cigarette ends.”
Popular activities like lighting a campfire, barbecuing and even leaving litter behind pose a serious threat to Lancashire moorland. Wildfires can occur in the countryside, on moorlands or forests due to carelessness, deliberate ignition or naturally. Global warming has presented a trend of warmer weather in March and April, causing the grass and vegetation to become tinder dry. LFRS fears that with lockdown restrictions easing, people will flock to Lancashire beauty spots with BBQs or the intent on lighting fires, creating wildfire hazards.
There are a number of things you can do to prevent wildfires that are as simple as ensuring that cigarettes are discarded properly and fully extinguished, don’t light BBQ’s or campfires, ensure you take any litter home with you as glass bottles can magnify in the sun and start a fire and lastly, educate young people about the dangers of lighting fires.
Liam Wilson, Group Manager for Eastern Lancashire and lead on Wildfire Prevention for LFRS explains more; “LFRS is working tremendously hard with partners from the Lancashire Fire Operations Group in preparation for this coming Easter half term which is usually an exceptionally busy time for ourselves.
“In recent years we have seen an increase in wildfires, some of which have been caused by deliberate or negligent ignition. To those individuals who seek to aggravate an already difficult situation, we ask them to think about the wider consequences of their actions. The direct impact of wildfires upon our communities can be massive, however they also need to consider that these incidents tie up critical emergency service resources, which could have serious consequences for other people who may genuinely need our help elsewhere. LFRS will continue to work with colleagues from Lancashire Police in regards to investigating these incidents.
“While we understand that people will want to enjoy our beautiful countryside, we would ask people to behave responsibly and to take every possible action to protect their surroundings and prevent a wildfire from starting. Due to the fire and environmental risk, LFRS is asking people not to have barbecues or campfires on moorland or in areas of forestry. Having the support of partners, public and landowners at this time, will undoubtedly help us deal with the additional pressures we face as a result of these incidents and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Early notification is important as these fires can develop very quickly. If you do see a fire, please dial 999 and report it immediately”.
For further advice and guidance on wildfires and how to prevent them please visit: www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk/wildfires