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People urged to take care out in the countryside and prevent accidental fires

March 12 2021

Every year fires are responsible for the destruction of thousands of acres of countryside. There are a lot of things that you can avoid doing to help prevent them

Mark Downes - one of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Prevent Delivery Leads

With the weather forecast to pick up in the next fortnight, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to take care when out and about in the countryside and prevent the number of accidental fires needing to be attended.

Over the good weather spell that greeted the beginning of March, there were no fewer than eight secondary fires that occupied crews in the western part of the county alone.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Prevention team are keen to ensure this isn’t the case during the next warm spell.

Secondary fires range from outdoor bin fires and smouldering camp fires to small grass or woodland fires.

Mark Downes, one of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Prevent Delivery Leads, said: “Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service want our community to enjoy the outdoors. But more importantly, we want them to enjoy it safely without putting others at risk.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service were called to Chester Road, Enville, at 3pm on 31 July 2020 to reports of a fire in an area known as The Millon

“Every year fires are responsible for the destruction of thousands of acres of countryside. There are a lot of things that you can avoid doing to help prevent them.”

Tips from the fire service include:

  • Never throw cigarette ends out of car windows
  • Make sure cigarettes are put out properly and disposed of in dedicated bins
  • Take your rubbish home or put it in a nearby bin
  • Don’t leave glass bottles lying on the ground. Sunlight shining through glass can start a fire
  • Don’t have open fires or barbeques in the countryside – they can easily set fire to the ground and spread. Please note that there is a total ban on the use of a barbecue or in setting a campfire on all Forestry Commission Land
  • Keep matches and lighters out of children and young peoples’ reach and talk to them about the dangers of starting fires outside

Mark added: “If you find a fire in the countryside or in any outdoor space don’t attempt to tackle it, call 999 and ask for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service immediately.”

He also suggested installing the ‘What 3 Words’ app onto your smart phones which can be used in an emergency situation to pass on your location to call takers so they can locate you as quickly and accurately as possible.

Fire damage at Meer Valley, Cannock Chase, in April 2020

When someone is calling in about an incident they can give the location information to the control room using the three words either on signs placed in some beauty spots or that come up in the app. The incident can then be located immediately using tracking software and given to attending crews in the hope of saving time and lives.

“Pass on as much information about the location as possible, use the What 3 Words app if you have it to pinpoint the exact spot,” Mark added.

“If you see a campfire or barbecue which has spread to the ground or surrounding area then please call 999 immediately.

“We need your eyes to assist us in keeping our community safe. Please share our safety tips with your friends and family and should you observe any suspicious behaviour please report it to the independent charity CrimeStoppers anonymously or Staffordshire Police.

“Our aim is to prevent any fires from re-occurring this Spring or Summer that could have a devastating impact on the safety of our communities and enjoyment of our beauty spots.”

For further advice on outdoor safety contact Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Prevent Team on 01785 898719 or via email at WSDGPreventTeam@staffordshirefire.gov.uk

Last year's Don't Be Blamed For The Flames campaign highlighted the issue