fire risk outdoors
Over just one weekend this month, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service attended 17 fires in the open. The majority had broken out in crop or grassland areas. Given the spell of very dry weather we’ve had recently, these fires are taking hold quickly and spreading rapidly. It’s very likely you’ll have seen news coverage about some of the significant wildfires that have broken out across areas like Saddleworth Moor in Greater Manchester and many other parts of the UK. Thanks to the prolonged hot, dry weather conditions, it doesn’t take much to start these fires and once they ignite they can be very difficult to bring under control. Unsurprisingly, people are being asked to take extra care to minimise the risk; even with onset of slighter cooler weather and rain, the dried out vegetation will still pose a risk for quite a while. It’s a sad fact that not every fire was started accidentally either. In many instances – including, it has been discovered, the Saddleworth fire - arson has played a part. It was also behind several of the weekend's fires in Cambridge. These fires are devastating. They destroy habitat and harm wildlife. They can wipe out agricultural land where animals should be grazing or crops growing.  But it’s not only agricultural businesses that are affected; the threat from fire extends to all kinds of premises and businesses. A recent blaze in Ipswich spread very near to the historical Hengrave Hall, now used as a wedding venue.  Many fires can get so close to residential areas that they can threaten homes and trigger evacuations.  Some fires end up threatening infrastructures too; action had to be taken to prevent fire damaging the region’s TV transmitter and several other transmitters on top of Manchester’s Winter Hill. What part can we play in reducing the risks? Fire and rescue services across the UK are publicising the main things to pay attention to when you are outdoors. Tips include always putting cigarettes out properly and never throwing them onto grass verges or any other kind of vegetation. Don’t leave anything made from glass, like bottles, lying on the ground or anywhere else that the sun's rays might reflect through them and start a fire. (People aren’t always aware this can be a risk factor inside buildings too if the sun is strong so move glass and mirrors away from direct sunlight). They also advise people to never put disposable barbecues directly onto grass. As with all barbecues, they should be used on a stable surface well away from fences and shrubs. In the case of disposable barbecues, it’s advised that surface is made from bricks - never be tempted to put it on a bench. Never leave a barbecue smouldering and do douse the ashes in water before disposing of them. And while we’re on the subject of disposable barbecues, remember that not only do they present a fire risk in themselves but must also never be used inside a tent, caravan or any other enclosed space because of the carbon monoxide poisoning risk. But clearly, it’s not just the accidental fires that have been causing such problems of late, given the number of fires where arson has been identified as a cause. Simple steps can help like cutting back on the amount of vegetation in the immediate vicinity and making sure your external storage arrangements don’t offer the arsonist an opportunity to ignite a fire that could spread rapidly around your premises or home and surrounding area. As always, stay vigilant. If you have any concerns about someone’s behaviour, report it to the police straight away. And if you’re concerned that your premises is particularly vulnerable please do get in touch with us for some guidance about further specific measures you can take.