THE Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS), Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), and Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) are asking farmers, land managers and the public for their help during spells of dry weather.
Environment Minister Edwin Poots, MLA, said: “The recent wildfire in the Mournes on Donard Mountain has shown how quickly a wildfire can spread creating significant risk to life and property while causing extensive environmental damage and diverting the emergency services resources away from where they are most needed, protecting and serving the community.
“With the Covid-19 restrictions starting to relax and people travelling to see friends, family and enjoy the countryside, the need for responsible behaviour and increased vigilance at this time cannot be overstated. The wildfire risk increases with members of the public taking advantage to get back into the countryside. The use of barbeques, camp fires and other open ignition sources should be avoided in or near areas where there is a risk of a vegetation fire starting (areas with gorse, forestry, heather or dry grasses).
“On behalf of all partner organisations I am asking the public, farmers, rural dwellers and other countryside users to be extremely vigilant regarding the use of fire. Please report any suspicious or illegal activity to the PSNI via 999 and report all fires immediately to the NIFRS via 999.”
There remains a risk of wildfires across Northern Ireland. Fires can take hold and spread quickly on dry ground, with potentially devastating consequences.
Extra caution is also advised with respect to use of machinery and other agricultural activity that may also present a risk of fire in dry vegetation on cultivated land in the current conditions. Operators of such equipment should ensure that the machinery is well maintained and that any heat insulation is in place, is intact and maintained to help reduce the risk of fire from exhausts or other exposed hot engine parts which may lead to ignition of the surrounding vegetation in these very dry conditions.
Wildfires are not natural, they are almost always started by humans either deliberately or through carelessness. They put lives at risk, destroy our surroundings and the wildlife in them, and are a real cost to society.
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