If you are out and about enjoying the warmer weather over the Bank Holiday weekend, Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) asks that you keep safety in mind.
Whether you are going camping, having a barbecue with friends and family or just out and about enjoying the great outdoors, please be mindful of how quickly a fire can start.
Smouldering cigarette butts thrown from car windows or dropped onto grass verges are a common cause of grass and heath fires. The sun’s rays magnified through broken glass or even the heat from a vehicle parked in the long grass of a make-shift field car park can spark a blaze.
Nearly 40 per cent of all the fires KFRS attended were outdoor fires including woodland, grassland, crops, etc. Sixty per cent of these (around 1000 fires) were believed to have been started deliberately and 45 per cent of these by youths (10-17 year olds).
KFRS Area Manager, Mark Rist explains: “Every year, outdoor fires destroy acres of countryside and wildlife habitats. Whether started accidentally or deliberately these types of fires spread much quicker than expected, particularly when vegetation is dry. They cause a great deal of damage and also tie up valuable firefighting resources which could be saving lives elsewhere.
“A number of outdoor fires are started deliberately, often by children and young peoples who think its harmless fun but what may have been intended to be just a small fire, can quickly spread out of control. Starting fires on purpose is dangerous and a waste of time and money. With half term approaching, we’re asking parents to talk to their children to make sure they understand they could be putting lives at risk, including their own.”
Tell-tale signs that your child could be starting fires include:
- Do their clothes smell of smoke?
- Are they using or carrying matches and lighters for no particular reason?
If you are concerned in anyway contact the KFRS’ Firesetters team on 01622 692121 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice on how to deal with the problem.
Mark ended: "We would like local people to help us by reporting suspicious behaviour to CRIMESTOPPERS anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the Police on 101. If you spot a fire, please help us by reporting it immediately, rather than presuming someone else has already made the call. Give as much information as you can including location and nearby landmarks to help our crews respond quicker and to minimise the amount of damage that these devastating fires can cause."