Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Countryside Fire Safety

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is warning people of the dangers of grass fires after a spate of incidents across the County in the last two weeks.

During the dry summer months the Service sees a sharp increase in field and grass fires and is urging people to take extra care when they are out in the country and making sure youngsters are aware of the risks of deliberately lighting fires in dry fields and parks.

Grass fires can quickly escalate out of control, spread rapidly and even set light to buildings. Deliberately setting light to grass is not only irresponsible it could result in a criminal conviction and a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine of £5,000.

Neil Fenwick, Head of Community Safety, said: “During the school summer holidays we see a sharp increase in the number of field and grass fires attended by our firefighters.

“Young people who deliberately start grass fires need to think about what they are doing. These fires might start small but they soon spread over wide areas as they spread uncontrolled.

“They can easily spread to engulf building and cause injuries. Not only that but they are extremely time consuming for firefighters to tackle and while crews are tied up tackling grass fires they are not available to attend emergencies elsewhere.

“By starting grass fires you are not only risking injury to yourselves and others, including firefighters, you also risk criminal prosecution and a fine or even a prison sentence.”

Anyone heading out to enjoy the parks and countryside of Essex during the holidays should follow our summer safety advice:

• Avoid open fires in the countryside. Always have them in safe, designated areas. If you are having a bonfire in the Garden make sure that it’s not too dry and that the fire is properly contained.
• Put out cigarettes and other smoking materials properly before you leave your vehicle.
• Don’t leave bottles or glass in woodlands. Sunlight shining through glass can start a fire. Take them home or put them in a waste or recycling bin.
• If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately.
• Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water – leave the area as soon as possible.
• Never throw cigarette ends out of car windows – they could start a fire and endanger lives.

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