09/04/2013

NI Fire Service Launches Gorse Fire Appeal

The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) has released an appeal to the public following the first gorse fires of the year.

NIFRS is asking people to think about the consequences of deliberate fire setting in the countryside and mountains.

The Service received 548 emergency calls relating to gorse fires in the first 7 days of April alone.

This amounted to firefighters responding to 387 gorse fires.

But NIFRS revealed there has been a 75% decrease in the number of gorse fires attended by fire crews over the past three years.

"While this reduction is encouraging, NIFRS warns there is no room for complacency and with the upsurge in gorse fire related call outs last week is appealing for people, especially young people, to be aware of the very serious consequences that deliberate fire setting in the countryside can have on the whole community," the statement said.

Dale Ashford, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service added: "As the drier weather takes hold and we begin to see signs of spring, I’m asking the public a simple question - where do you want your Fire & Rescue Service over the coming months? In remote areas tackling deliberately set fires for hours on end - potentially leaving your community at risk, or at your local fire station ready to deal with life threatening emergencies?

"Dealing with these types of incidents puts not only firefighters’ lives at risk but the lives of everyone in the local community and puts additional pressure on NIFRS resources. People need to realise that we simply cannot be in 2 places at once and fighting gorse fires mean that Fire Appliances and Firefighters are diverted from other potentially life threatening emergency incidents in the local community.  We have contingency plans in place to ensure continued emergency cover for towns and villages across Northern Ireland."

Fire crews had to battle almost 2,000 gorse fires across Northern Ireland during the 2011 Easter period. Sunday 1 May that year was the busiest day on record for NIFRS.

"We don’t want a repeat of this and with the first gorse fires of the year already having been dealt with by Fire Crews we are appealing to the public and young people in particular to support their fire and rescue service by acting responsibly," Mr Ashford continued.

NIFRS has released some tips for the public on preventing gorse fires:

- Extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials properly.

- Never throw cigarette ends out of car windows.

- Only use barbecues in designated and safe areas and never leave them unattended. Keep children and ball games away from barbecues.

- Ensure that barbecues are fully extinguished and cold before disposing of their contents.

- Avoid using open fires in the countryside.

- Do not leave bottles or glass in woodlands.

- If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately to the Fire & Rescue Service. Don’t attempt to tackle fires that cannot be put out with no more than a bucket of water. Leave the area as soon as possible.

(IT)

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