Public urged to take all steps possible to prevent wildfires ahead of lockdown easing

As the country prepares for the gradual easing of lockdown, the Countryside Alliance has published its advice on the prevention of wildfires.

Wildfires have the capability to devastate farmland, wildlife and protected habitats, as well as the lives of people living and working in rural communities.

The risk at springtime is particularly prevalent as dead vegetation left over from the winter, higher temperatures and lower humidity levels, can come together with deadly effect.

Firefighters spent two and a half hours tackling a blaze on Saddleworth Moor, near the village of Diggle recently.

This follows two previous wildfires on the moor, the most recent of which was in February, 2019.

The wildfire took 10 days to bring under control, recruiting fire fighters from seven counties to fight the blaze.

Some four square miles of moorland were destroyed and the environmental damage done was “considerable”.

Preventing wildfires

The ease with which wildfires can start, and under difficult conditions, is a threat that rural fire and rescue services must be prepared for. Successful partnerships and groups have therefore been formed in high-risk areas with great success, promoting cooperation and collaboration on wildfire issues.

Gamekeepers and moorland managers have a particularly important role, as they are frequently the first to see and report wildfires, and their specialist equipment is invaluable in helping to put them out.

The Countryside Alliance has said that everyone can do their bit in preventing them in the first place, by following their simple rules when in the countryside:
  • Do not discard cigarettes;
  • Do not start fires or use BBQs as they frequently cause wildfires;
  • Dispose of all litter appropriately;
  • Do not release sky lanterns as once released, there is no control over where they end up.

If anyone finds themselves in a position where they encounter a wildfire that they are unable to bring under control safely, move to a safe location upwind and call the emergency service on 999 immediately, giving an accurate location of the fire.