Help protect the countryside from wildfire

04 October 2022

A picture of a disposable bbq in a field

Every year fire is responsible for the destruction of thousands of acres of countryside, open spaces and wildlife habitat with some fires lasting several days.

We’re already protecting the countryside with our petition calling for support for a total ban on the sale and use of sky lanterns in England and Wales. Thank you to everyone who has signed our petition so far, have you added your name?

Sadly a number of wildfires are caused by human error. With the current prolonged dry and very warm conditions there's an increased risk of wildfires. There's already been a rise in the number of wildfires caused by an everyday item - the disposable BBQ. 

Discarded disposable BBQs, together with the combination of dry and hot weather, are a recipe for disaster and, when fire ignites, it spreads quickly across dry land. Other items that can cause unintentional but devastating wildfires are camping fires, discarded glass bottles and cigarette butts. Not only do these fires destroy the countryside, they also kill and injure the wildlife that lives among it.

National Fire Chiefs Wildfire lead Paul Hedley comments "We are urging people not to use disposable barbecues when out in the countryside or at local parks during the current hot weather spell, and not to have campfires. Fire and rescue services are already reporting a number or grass fires being caused by barbecues; just a single spark or ember can lead to widescale fires or a wildfire taking hold."

The Peak District National Park has the following advice to ensure that you use BBQs responsibly in the countryside:

You MUST ALWAYS have landowner permission to barbecue or light a campfire.

  • Always site your barbecue low to the ground, ideally on a rocky area with as little vegetation as possible. Do not sit a barbecue directly onto vegetation.
  • Not use accelerants (such as paraffin) to reduce the risk of splashing in surrounding areas
  • Never leave a lit barbecue unattended
  • Avoid overhanging trees, leaves or wood close by to your barbecue
  • Have a supply of water to hand for emergencies
  • After use, ensure your barbecue is fully extinguished and cold, with no burning embers
  • Take all charcoal, litter etc away with you and do not discard it on site

Find out more on the Peak District National Park website.

More tips to help prevent wildfire

We all have a duty to protect the countryside, so if you’re out enjoying the warmer weather be sure to follow these tips to make sure you’re also enjoying the countryside responsibly:

  • Avoid using open fires in the countryside
  • Do not leave bottles or glass in woodlands
  • Make sure cigarettes and other smoking materials are extinguished properly
  • Only use barbecues in suitable and safe areas and never leave them unattended
  • Never throw cigarette ends out of car windows - they can ruin whole fields of crops
  • Ensure that your barbecue is fully extinguished and cold before disposing of the contents
  • Sunlight shining through glass can start large fires - take glass bottles/jars home or put them in a waste or recycling bin

What to do if you find a wildfire:

If you discover a wild fire on open land, advice from the emergency services is:

  • Get to a safe place. Wild fires can move quickly and in unpredictable ways
  • Go further away than you think necessary and put a natural fire break between you and the fire if possible
  • Note your location and call 999 asking for fire and rescue
  • Follow instructions from the fire and rescue service
  • Don’t stay around to take photos – go on social media etc

The dangers of sky lanterns

Sky lanterns_48040

Sky lanterns set off into the night-time sky may look pretty, but did you know the frames can kill or harm farm animals, and the candles are a major fire risk to fields of crops and buildings. 

Once a sky lantern is lit, nobody knows exactly where it will land. Fields of livestock, standing crops, hay and straw stacks, farm buildings housing animals, thatched roofs plus lots more are all at a significant risk of being set alight. Hot, dry conditions increase the risk.

Learn more about the dangers of sky lanterns and sign our petition calling for a ban. 

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