In the warm weather, it’s great to get outdoors (and the outdoors is happy to see you) but it’s important to treat it with some respect, particularly to avoid the risk of wildfires.
Wildfires pose as a massive issue in Northern Ireland during warm weather periods. In the past year (1 April 2021 to 24 March 2022), the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) have tackled 1,872 gorse fires alone, as well as reporting to other incidents. Wildfires, whether started deliberately or accidentally, can have a devastating impact on the environment and wildlife of Northern Ireland.
If you’re getting Out More over the coming weeks and months then make sure you consider and take care of your surroundings – here are some tips to help you do that:
The best way to prevent starting a wildfire in the outdoors is to avoid starting any open fires in the first place. Extinguish the idea in your brain before you have to do so in real life. Once a fire has started, it can rapidly spread across miles of greenery, devastating wildlife and livelihoods, regardless of your intent.
If you are smoking, please extinguish and dispose of the cigarettes correctly. Better yet, follow our first piece of advice and wait until you get home before lighting up. You may think your tiny cigarette can do no harm, but any small spark can ignite and start a fire.
A picnic or barbecue outdoors can be a great idea if you do it correctly and where it is allowed. When lighting a barbecue, make sure you are aware of your surroundings – i.e. there is no dry wood near you or a strong wind that might make the barbecue tip. Again, make sure you only use barbecues in designated and safe areas.
Once lit, ensure the barbecue is never left unattended and kept away from children and ball games.
After you’re done with the barbecue, make sure you extinguish it completely and it is cold before disposing of its contents in an environmentally responsible way.
Remember, when lighting a barbecue, it is your responsibility to take care of it. Failure to do so can result in criminal fines.
Even the smallest of changes in the countryside can affect the environment. By leaving bottles or glass in woodlands, fires can start by the sun shining through them, igniting a flame. This is just one more reason not to litter, on top of hundreds of others. Dispose of bottles safely and take them home, especially glass bottles!
If a fire has started in the countryside, report it to the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) immediately by calling 999. The earlier you report a fire, the less it spreads.
If you spot a fire yourself, please do not attempt to tackle a fire that will take more than a bucket of water to extinguish.