Firefighters mark National Picnic Week with wildfire warning

By Barrie Hudson - 20 June 2022

Community

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) has launched a wildfire prevention campaign - #BringAPicnicNotABBQ.

The campaign coincides with National Picnic Week, which runs until 26 June, and aims to remind people in Wiltshire and Dorset, as well as day trippers and holidaymakers, to take care in open spaces this summer. 

Last year firefighters across the two counties attended 494 wildfires, and the number across the UK is increasing.

Disposable barbecues being left behind when still hot are a known cause of heath and forest fires, as are campfires. The campaign aims to reduce this risk by encouraging people to choose alternatives. 

It also highlights that barbecues and fires are banned on heathland, in forests and in many other high risk areas across Dorset - including at Wareham Forest, scene of a devastating fire in 2020 which is believed to have been started by a disposable barbaecue.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Andy Cole said: “These incidents highlight just how devastating, and resource intensive, wildfires are. 

"With nice weather hopefully on the way, it is only natural to want to go outdoors and enjoy it with friends and family, but it is also important to stay fire-aware when out and about. The idea behind the #BringAPicnicNotABBQ campaign is to remind those enjoying our countryside that bringing a picnic is a much safer option than having a barbecue.”

Forestry England Wildlife Ranger Mark Warn said: “Wareham Forest is one of the most important places in the UK for nature and conservation, with much of the wildlife found here having already disappeared from other parts of the country. 

"It is one of the few places where it is still possible to find all six of the UK’s native reptiles, including the endangered smooth snake and sand lizard, and it is home to many rare species of birds and insects. 

"The wildfire here showed how somewhere as special as this can be so quickly devastated by one careless act. We all have a role in preventing wildfires and one of the simplest ways is to leave the BBQ at home, they are not permitted and not welcome in the forest.” 

More information about staying safe and enjoying outside areas whilst avoiding starting a wildfire can be found at www.dwfire.org.uk/heath-fires-and-countryside-safety

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