News release text
As the county gets set for a bank holiday weekend – and for many a half term holiday too - Kent firefighters are preparing for a rise in outdoor blazes ranging from unattended bonfires and barbecue incidents to grass and heathland fires.
While last summer saw a large reduction in outdoor fires, the May to September months are traditionally one of the busiest periods of the year and around 60 per cent are often started deliberately, with children and young people being held responsible for on average a third of these.*
“Last summer’s prolonged wet weather certainly put a dampener on things, including people’s enthusiasm for barbecues and bonfires,” says Stuart Skilton, KFRS Head of Community Safety. “So we’re all hoping to get outdoors more this year but the potential dangers of fire are always there; we are appealing to people to ensure that they take extra care not to start fires, whether it is simply disposing of rubbish and cigarettes in a responsible manner, to being safe with outdoor activities such as camping, barbecuing and bonfires. Parents can help us by reminding their children of how starting a fire could mean a huge fine or even a prison sentence.”
Stuart added: “Fires during fine weather are a major issue for our crews as they can spread easily and destroy thousands of acres of countryside, crops and wildlife habitats. This puts enormous demands on our resources as well as posing a serious threat to lives and homes. By following our simple safety tips you will help protect the countryside, and help to prevent fires starting in the first place.”
Key messages include:
· Keep matches and lighters out of the way of children and remind them that they are not toys
· If you are a parent you are strongly advised not to leave young people to wander in the countryside unsupervised. Ensure that they are aware of the dangers of fire
· Don't light fires in the countryside or drop litter which could be set alight
· Don't accumulate rubbish which can act as potential fuel for deliberate fire setters
· Recycle rather than burn household rubbish/garden waste in a bonfire
· Contact your local district or borough council to arrange collection of unwanted furniture, or to report abandoned vehicles or fly tipped waste (Clean Kent 24 hour reporting line – 0845 345 0210)
· Report any information about illegal fire setting activities and those responsible (anonymously) to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
For further fire safety advice go to http://www.kent.fire-uk.org/ or call 0800 923 7000.
Note to Editors:
*All based on period of 1st May to 30th September.
Number of outdoor fires including rubbish and grassland – 1042 in 2012, 1853 in 2011 and 1753 in 2010.
This equates to the percentage of ALL FIRES – 56% in 2012, 63% in 2011 and 61% in 2010
The number of outdoor fires (inc rubbish and grassland) started deliberately were – 654 (63%) in 2012, 1115 (60%) in 2011 and 984 (56%) in 2010.
The number of outdoor fires (inc rubbish and grassland) believed to have been caused by children and youths (accidental & deliberate) – 277 (27%) in 2012, 547 (30%) in 2011, 559 (39%) in 2010.