Surrey Fire and Rescue Service

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service campaign to protect county from wildfires this summer

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service campaign to protect county from wildfires this summer

Surrey Fire and Rescue are urging people to enjoy the outdoors safely this summer. During the spring and summer last year the service attended 1,314 outdoor fires, approximately 12% of all the incidents attended last year. 57% of these incidents were accidental fires resulting in three members of the public being injured.

Every year, many acres of Surrey countryside and wildlife habitats are destroyed by wildfires that are either caused by carelessness or started deliberately.

Kay Hammond, Cabinet Member for Community Safety said: “This year we have already experienced a great deal of hot weather and this looks set to continue. Because of these conditions the countryside can already be very dry, which is why we need everyone to take extra care when enjoying the great outdoors.

“Given the right conditions wildfire can spread in a matter of minutes and we all need to act responsibly to avoid destruction to the wonderful green and open spaces in Surrey.”

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Simon Moore said: “Wildfires often require large numbers of resources to deal with them and this can put a strain on the available fire cover within the county.

“Surrey Fire and Rescue Service has invested in new off-road equipment and has developed new wildfire fire-fighting tactics but Surrey residents and visitors have a clear role to play in preventing wildfire this summer. They can also help to stop the spread by calling 999 immediately if they see smoke or a fire in the countryside.”

Here are some tips on staying safe and protecting Surrey’s countryside:

Whether at home or out and about, residents and visitors are being asked to:
· Put out cigarettes and other smoking materials properly – never throw them out of a car window.
· Check first with the landowner or a countryside ranger that barbecues and campfires are permitted.
· Position barbecues or campfires in a suitable and safe area, free from overhanging tree branches and a safe distance away from buildings, sheds, fences, tents etc
· Use a match and firelighters to light barbeques and never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive a fire.
· Never leave a barbecue, campfire or bonfire unattended and keep children and ball games away from them at all times.
· Keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby for emergencies.
· Ensure barbecues are fully extinguished and cold before disposing of the contents.
· Never cook or smoke inside a tent.
· If you’re using gas cylinders for cooking or heating, make sure they are kept outside and away from children.
· Take all litter home to recycle as magnified sunrays from glass bottles and other items can start a fire.

Further information on fire safety outside the home can be found within our fire prevention pages on the “fire safety at home and in the community” area of the SCC website

In addition, information is also available from http://www.firekills.direct.gov.uk

Ends

Media requiring more information should contact Joanna Simpson in the Surrey County Council communications team on 020 8541 9872

Notes to editors

Over the last five years Surrey has suffered a number of large wildfires that have caused significant damage to important areas of the countryside and scarred the landscape, spoiling it for residents and visitors. The devastation to the natural habitats of animals and plant life is often severe and can take several years to recover.

On average 79,000 fires are started on heathland in the UK every year; an average of 216 per day.

It takes around 60 seconds for a fire to destroy a tent.

Surrey Fire and Rescue has joined forces with neighbouring fire and rescue services, the Forestry Commission, Natural England and the Ministry Of Defence to develop joint training and prevention programmes aimed at reducing the number and severity of wildfires.

If you have any information about a deliberate fire, please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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