Posted: Sat 20th Apr 2024

Wales Wildfire Board launches new ‘WildfireWise’ awareness campaign

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

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The Wales Wildfire Board is calling on residents to be vigilant and proactive in wildfire prevention as part of their new ‘WildfireWise’ campaign this spring and summer.

With warmer weather around the corner, which encourages more outdoor activities and increases the risk of dry conditions, the Board emphasises the importance of following safety advice to avoid accidental fires.

The spring and summer months carry with them a real set of dangers if the public does not follow practical and correct safety advice appropriate for this time of year.

The Wales Wildfire Board is encouraging everyone to be Wildfire Wise and commit to simple precautions and a little extra care, which will ensure we can continue to enjoy our beautiful countryside and keep our communities safe from the devastating effects of wildfires.

During this time of year, grass and mountains can become very dry, which means if you deliberately or accidentally start a fire outdoors it will spread very quickly, destroying everything in its path.

In 2023, fire services across Wales attended 1,880 grassfire incidents – this was a decrease of 45% on the previous year with deliberate grass fires decreasing by 1,059 (45%) to 1,301.

The Wales Wildfire Board wants to work with communities to build a healthier and more resilient countryside and to develop a more biodiverse countryside for the future.

The #wildfirewise campaign aims to educate individuals on the best practices for avoiding and preventing wildfires in Wales.

By raising awareness about the potential dangers of wildfires, the campaign will encourage people to be more vigilant when out enjoying the countryside and proactive in reporting suspicious activities that can lead to fires.

Many wildfires are preventable and there are some simple steps and changes to behaviour that can limit their number and impact.

Iwan Cray, Chair of the Wales Wildfire Board and Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said:

“Our new Wildfire Wise campaign is built on the knowledge and experience partners on the Board have gained over the last decade in dealing with the impact of wildfires across Wales.

“We are encouraging all members of our communities to respect our countryside and play their part in safeguarding our environment and keeping our communities safe.

“While accidents do happen, they are also avoidable, and our Wildfire Wise campaign focuses on educating us all on some of the small steps we can take to ensure we don’t accidentally cause a grass fire to ignite.

“I would also like to take the opportunity to reinforce our messages that while accidents can happen, there are others within our communities who are deliberately setting fire to our countryside – not only is this a crime, for which they will be prosecuted, but it also places unnecessary pressure on front line services and puts our communities in harm’s way. I would encourage anyone with information relating to such crimes to call 101, or to report anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111”.

Andrew Wright, Deputy Chair of the Wales Wildfire Board and Senior Specialist Advisor – Plant Health and Knowledge Transfer at Natural Resources Wales said:

“The Burn date deadline of 31 March 2024 is there for a reason and that is to protect and safeguard our natural environment. Burning outside of this date without a permit is a breach of Cross Compliance and could result in payments including the Basic Payment Scheme or Rural Development land-based schemes (e.g., Glastir) being reduced, recovered, or withheld. I will be working closely with the Task Force, and I would urge the farming community to respect this requirement and do their part in keeping our communities safe.

“It is vitally important that we all continue to work together to build a healthier, more resilient and increasingly biodiverse landscape here in Wales, doing what we can to protect this precious resource for the future.

“We want to work with our communities, farmers, and landowners to share our knowledge and understanding of the effect that both deliberate and accidental fires have on our communities. We understand that controlled burns can have a positive effect on the environment, creating biodiversity and a sustainable ecosystem and we are available for free advice on how to do this safely.”

By working together with communities to share knowledge, the Wales Wildfire Board hopes to provide a better understanding of what can be done to limit accidental fires from happening and in turn the damage they can cause to the environment.

Find out more about #WalesWildFire 2024 via Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s new website, where you can also access some simple safety tips and download the campaign’s safety messages for use on your own social media channels. Together, efforts can help stop grass fires and protect our countryside and our country.

Remember – If you are out enjoying the countryside and you come across any suspicious activity, please call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or ring 101. In an emergency, always call 999.

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