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Firefighters want your help in stopping outdoor fires

Firefighters want your help in stopping outdoor fires

Photo 09-07-2015 20 59 15.jpg

10 July 2015

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is asking the public to stay safe and be aware of fire hazards when out and about, after a 25 per cent increase in outdoor fires on the same period last year.

Between 1 June and 10 July 2015 crews were called to 417* fires involving grass, undergrowth, heathland or rubbish that was alight - almost half of these were deliberate. While the majority were on a small scale, crews fear that a fire could lead to a major incident breaking out.

Jody Morgan, Crew Manager at Dartford Fire Station said: “All it takes to spark a blaze in this warm weather is a cigarette thrown out of a car window or a campfire or barbecue that’s not been properly doused down. Even the heat from a hot exhaust pipe or catalytic converter can start a fire in long grass or a make-shift field car park. However, another big concern for us is youths starting fires deliberately.

“Starting fires on purpose puts lives at risk. They are not only dangerous but are also a waste of time and money. While we’re tied up tackling fires that have been started deliberately, it could prevent us from responding to a real emergency where someone may be trapped in a house fire or car crash.  It’s not harmless fun, it’s arson and if caught, you could face a huge fine or even a custodial sentence.”

Most of the incidents have required only one fire engine and the fires have been dealt with quickly but some have required two or three fire engines to bring them under control.

These are just some of the outdoor fires that KFRS was called to yesterday (9 July):

  • A bonfire spread to nearby trees and fence panels in Hever Road, West Kingsdown at 10.44am. A hose reel was used to put the fire out.

  • Flex packs were used to tackle a fire in undergrowth and grass that was alight next to site hoardings in The Ridgeway, Tonbridge just before 12.30pm.

  • An ember from a bonfire in an adjoining garden is thought to be to blame for a small fire alongside a railway embankment in Tunbridge Wells at 12.56pm. Network Rail isolated the power and trains had to be stopped while crews tackled the fire using a main jet and water from a hydrant.

  • Firefighters were called to Taswell Road, Rainham after a bonfire spread to grass at 1.19pm. They used a hose reel to quickly put it out.

  • A high pressure hose reel was used to extinguish a fire in grass and undergrowth in  Craylands Lane, Swanscombe at 2.40pm.

  • Two fire engines were called to Green Street Green Road, Darenth at 4.10pm and crews spent over an hour extinguishing a fire involving about 20 tonnes of free-standing rubbish that was in danger of spreading to nearby woodland. A main jet, water shuttle and hydrant were used to extinguish the blaze.

  • Discarded smoking material is believed to have caused a small fire in undergrowth in Cornwallis Avenue, Gillingham just before 5pm. 

  • Firefighters used fire beaters and flex packs to deal with fire in undergrowth and brambles in Dane Valley Road, Margate just before 7.20pm.  An abandoned camp fire is believed to have sparked the fire.

  • Crews used cold cutting firefighting equipment and a fire-fogging unit to suppress a large grass fire in Swanscombe just after 8.30pm. This enabled them to get deep into the undergrowth and put it out as quickly as possible.

You can help us prevent an outdoor fire or if you spot one while out by:

  • Phoning 999 

  • Not dropping cigarette butts in the countryside or out of car windows

  • Taking your litter home with you - sunlight shining through a glass bottle can start a fire on a sunny day

  • If you see a fire in the countryside phone 999 immediately. If you are not sure of your location, tell us what you see, including landmarks like a pub, church or school sign
    If you are out walking and see smoke coming towards you – go back the way you’ve come as quickly as possible because the fire will be following the smoke 

  • Contact your local district or borough council to ask about the disposal of unwanted furniture, or to report abandoned vehicles or fly tipped waste (Clean Kent 24 hour reporting line – 0845 345 0210)

  • Talk to your children about the dangers of starting fires

  • Report any information on fire setting activities and those responsible (anonymously if need be) to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

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