Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, Calderdale Council is reminding residents and landowners of the risk of wildfires on local moorlands and how they can be prevented.
Large and preventable moorland fires cause a significant strain on resources. Calderdale Council continues to work with partners at West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service and West Yorkshire Police to enforce Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) in areas of the countryside to prevent fires. These orders prohibit the lighting of fires, barbecues, sky lanterns, the driving of motorbikes, quad bikes or any other motorised vehicle and anything else that causes a fire risk – failure to comply is a criminal offence.
The recent spell of warm and dry weather has increased the fire risk. Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, Calderdale’s Community Safety Wardens, along with partners, will be patrolling the borough’s upland area, advising local communities and landowners of the dangers of fires and taking enforcement action against those who fail to comply with the PSPO. Signage is also being updated warning of the risks and what people should do if they see any problems on the moors.
Visits to local supermarkets will also take place to raise awareness around the disposal of litter, particularly barbecue items, which can pose a danger wherever they are used.
Calderdale Council’s Leader, Cllr Jane Scullion, said:
“Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, we’re raising awareness of the devastating effects of wildfires on moorland and asking people to enjoy our countryside responsibly.
“It’s so important that we do all we can to protect our distinctive environment, our wildlife and their precious habitats, which are destroyed by these preventable fires.
“We’re reminding people to follow the Countryside Code, pay attention to signage and be aware of our PSPOs prohibiting the lighting of fires, barbecues, sky lanterns or other items that could cause a fire risk. We’re also visiting local stores to raise awareness of the importance of disposing of rubbish correctly.”
Calderdale District Commander at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Laura Boocock, said:
“As the warmer weather approaches and we see hot and dry days, we know that people are taking the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful open areas that Calderdale has to offer, including our amazing moorland.
“However, this does lead to an increase in incidents in these areas. Many will know that we have spent the last few days tackling a fire on Marsden Moor, with crews from across the county working hard to bring the blaze under control. This demonstrates the impact that moorland fires can have and the resources it takes for us to respond to such incidents.
“Over the next few months, our crews will be actively undertaking visits to the local moorlands, nature reserves and areas of natural beauty to engage and educate the public on how to stay safe, avoiding preventable and careless fires which have a devastating impact on the environment and wildlife. We are also working with many partner agencies to monitor small incidents and potential incidents across our moorland areas.
“Please, if you are heading out, follow the fire bans and restrictions that are in place and be vigilant. Moorland fires have a huge impact on the environment and threaten the safety of people animals and property. Please, Be Moor Aware.
“Now, more than ever, we need your help to prevent wildfires. Go to https://www.westyorksfire.gov.uk/safety/be-moor-aware-wildfire-safety(external link) to find out more about how you can do your part to reduce wildfire risk and protect firefighters and your community.”
In order to stay safe and help protect the countryside, residents and visitors should be aware of the following important steps to take when visiting rural and moorland areas:
- Clear up and take your rubbish home after picnics
- Observe all signs and notices – they are there for a reason
- Follow the Countryside Code and look out for signs at National Trust and Yorkshire Water properties
- Don’t leave glass bottles. Not only can they hurt people and animals, but they can magnify the sun’s rays and start a fire
- If you notice anything suspicious report it immediately to the Police or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
- If you have any information which you believe will assist the Council to prevent moorland fires please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Never throw lighted cigarette ends onto the ground, or out of the window of vehicles or trains. Always ensure that they are completely extinguished and disposed of responsibly.
- Never be tempted to light a fire in the countryside and only barbecue in authorised areas
If you see a fire:
- Contact the Fire Service immediately – dial 999 – Do not assume it has already been reported.
- Do not attempt to tackle fires that cannot be put out with a bucket of water.
- Give a map reference (if possible), ‘what three words’ or give a landmark like a farm or pub to help find the fire.
- Guess the size of the area that is burning.
- Say what type of terrain it is (grass, bracken, forest, open moorland).
- Leave the area as soon as possible