Public Urged To Help Protect Countryside From Wildfires

Following a period of dryer weather, the With dryer weather anticipated, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) is reminding the public to help protect our countryside from wildfires.

These fires are commonly caused by human behaviour and are preventable. Last year NIFRS dealt with numerous fires in the countryside, including a major wildfire incident in Glenarrif which lasted 3 days.

NIFRS Group Commander Paul Morrow said: "Every year our Fire & Rescue Service is faced with fires in the countryside that have been devastating to our environment and wildlife, and they ultimately put people's lives at risk. The severity of the incidents, like the major gorse fire incident in Co. Antrim last June, take a massive toll on our resources. We put contingencies in place to ensure our Firefighters are able to respond in all areas across Northern Ireland when they are needed most.

"This puts an added pressure on our Service and our partner agencies who are frequently required to respond alongside us. It is physically exhausting and demanding work for our Firefighters in extreme, high temperatures as it takes hours, and sometimes even days, to put wildfires out.

"Wildfires can be unpredictable and spread fast. They are a threat to wildlife, livestock, environment, property and people.
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"Very often these fires are started deliberately. Purposely setting a wildfire is a criminal offence. If you see someone intentionally setting a fire please report it immediately by calling 999.

"You can help us prevent wildfires by protecting the places we love and staying safe. If you are enjoying the countryside, please be responsible and follow our safety advice. Don't use open fires and don't be careless with smoking materials, barbeques, camping fires or any other types of flame."

Do your part. Follow NIFRS advice to prevent fires in the countryside:

• Extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials properly and don't throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows.

• Avoid using open fires in the countryside. An open fire can easily get out of control.

• Don't leave bottles or glass in woodland or grassland. Take them home or dispose in a waste or recycling bin.

• Be considerate in parking vehicles so you don't impede access for emergency vehicles.

• Keep children away from lighters, matches and open fires.

• Only use barbeques in a suitable and safe area and never leave them unattended.

• Ensure barbeques are fully extinguished and cold before disposing of their contents.

• Don't attempt to tackle fires that can't be extinguished with a bucket of water – leave the area as quickly as possible.

• If you see a fire in the countryside, report it to NIFRS immediately by calling 999.

• If you see someone setting fires, report it to the PSNI.

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