Firefighters are urging the public to take extra care in the countryside to prevent fires that can devastate natural habitats and cause damage to the environment.
An amber fire warning is in place across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight which means that weather conditions have increased the chances of a fire in the open from spreading.
With more people starting to enjoy our outdoor spaces it’s vital that everyone plays their part to help Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (HIWFRS) protect our communities.
HIWFRS’ Wildfire Tactical Advisor, Dean Hodges, said:
‘With an amber fire warning currently in place across the areas we serve, the risk of wildfires remains a concern.
‘Bonfires, barbecues and campfires can easily spread out of control and drier, warmer weather increases the risk of wildfires, so it’s vital that people take extra care when visiting beauty spots across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
‘As lockdown measures begin to ease and more people are looking to get outdoors, we can all help keep our beautiful countryside safe and fire-free by following a few simple steps.’
Follow the countryside code to stay safe
• Do not discard cigarettes in the countryside; dispose of smoking materials properly and make sure they are completely extinguished
• Clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to avoid them magnifying the sun and starting a fire
• Only light fires or barbecues in designated areas using the facilities provided. Please note that New Forest Crown Lands have now been declared a no BBQ and fire zone. These are no longer permitted in car parks or areas of the forest managed by Forestry England
In an emergency:
• If you do see a fire in the countryside, contact us immediately – dial 999.
• Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water.
• Give a map reference if possible, otherwise give a landmark such as a farm or pub to help locate the fire.
• Estimate the size of the area that’s burning.
• Describe the type of terrain (grass, bracken, forest, open moorland etc)
• Evacuate the area as soon as possible.
Barbecues can easily get out of control but by following our safety tips you can reduce this risk:
• Whether you’re using a traditional charcoal or a gas barbecue you should never leave it unattended.
• Always light barbecues on level ground, well away from sheds, trees and fences or other structures
• Keep a bucket of water, sand, or a hosepipe nearby in case of emergencies.
• Don’t cook if you’re affected by alcohol or prescription drugs.
• Make sure the coals are cool before you move the barbecue. Once cool, dispose of the ashes safely – never place them in dustbins.
• When using gas barbecues ensure the tap is turned off before changing the gas cylinder. Do this outside in the open air or in a well-ventilated place.
• When you’ve finished cooking, turn off the gas cylinders before you turn off the barbecue controls, this will use up any gas in the pipeline.
• Store gas cylinders outside, away from frost and direct sunlight