Prescribed Burning – Advice for Farmers and Landowners Following Wildfires

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are asking all their help during the dry weather of the current spring.

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots said: “We have all seen the damage that was done in the Mournes last year and we must take action to prevent it from happening again.

“Everyone must act responsibly and remain vigilant in the face of wildfires.

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Image: NIFRS

“Wildfires pose a risk to life and property, while causing significant environmental damage and diverting emergency services resources from where they are most needed – protecting and serving the community. .

“With current conditions expected to last into next week, any ignition sources in hazardous fuels may give rise to wildfire development.

“Such a fire can spread very quickly, especially in areas of dead grass, gorse, forest and heather.

“Large areas can be engulfed in a very short time and can be dangerous to human life, property and wildlife.”

Image: NIFRS

NIFRS Group Commander Mark Smyth said: ‘With the dry weather expected to continue over the next few days, we are asking the public to support their firefighters by not starting any fires in the countryside.

“Dealing with wildfires unnecessarily diverts our resources from where they are needed most – protecting our community.

“They also cause significant damage to wildlife and the environment.”

Chief Superintendent Wendy Middleton added: “The gorse fires have the potential to cause widespread damage to the environment and wildlife, as well as threatening homes, farms and people living in these areas. .

“The unpredictability of fires can also mean that those who start them can put their own lives at risk as well as those of firefighters and other emergency services tasked with battling them.

“There can also be untold consequences to tying up crucial emergency resources that may be needed elsewhere.”

Farmers and land managers are advised to take all necessary precautions to ensure that any prescribed burning during the remaining burn period (until April 14) does not turn into a wildfire.

When considering a prescribed burn, it must be done in a controlled manner and under careful supervision.

Prior to any prescribed burning, it is advisable to contact NIFRS Headquarters (tel. 02892 664221) to alert them and discuss the details.

You must inform the NIFRS when you have completed your burning operations.

The public is also urged to use common sense in the campaign.

Never leave barbecues and campfires unattended and when finished extinguish campfires completely and bring portable/disposable barbecues home after use and be considerate in parking lots of vehicles, so as not to block access to emergency vehicles.

The public are also reminded that deliberately starting wildfires is a criminal offense and if you see anyone setting the fire you should call the PSNI immediately.

Forest fires are not natural, they are almost always started by humans, either deliberately or through negligence.

They endanger lives, destroy our environment and the wildlife found there, and represent a real cost to society.

Please consider the following tips:

If you are in the countryside:

*Avoid using open fires in the countryside;

* Only use barbecues in designated areas and never leave them unattended;

*Make sure barbecues are extinguished and cold before throwing away their contents;

* Properly extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials;

* Never throw cigarette butts out of car windows;

*Be careful when parking vehicles so as not to impede the access of emergency vehicles.

If you are performing a prescribed burn:

* Burn within the legal time allowed for controlled burning;

*Make sure you have the necessary consents or permissions to carry out the prescribed burning;

* Ensure the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service is informed of the fire and when the fire is over;

*Make sure the necessary precautions are in place to contain and manage the burn.

*If you see a fire in the countryside, immediately report it to the Fire and Rescue Service;

*Do not attempt to fight fires that cannot be extinguished with a bucket of water;

*Leave the area as soon as possible;

*If you see someone setting fire, report it to the PSNI.