Firefighters have issued a summer heat safety plea following several incidents cornfields, grass and crop fires in Kent that have been linked to the hot and dry weather the county is currently experiencing.
Countering wildfire incidents
Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) deals frequently with rural fires, but during periods of hot and dry weather, incidents on grassland have the potential to become much bigger wildfires. Last year (2018), KFRS responded to almost 700 grassfires, and so far, this year the service has already attended over 400 fires on grassland areas.
On Tuesday 23 July just before 5pm, KFRS was called to the scene of a large undergrowth fire on the Lydd Ranges. 100 firefighters and 20 fire engines were sent to the scene, along with a variety of other specialist vehicles to tackle the blaze.
Fogspike, Hose reel jets & beaters
Crews worked through the night to prevent the fire from spreading. Also, on 23 July, firefighters were called to cornfield fires in both Dartford and Charing. The previous day (Monday 22 July) around 25 firefighters were sent to the scene of a crop fire in Challock. Crews used a fogspike, hose reel jets and multiple beaters to extinguish the blaze.
Leanne McMahon, Group Manager for Community Safety, said: “With extremely high temperatures predicted for this week, we would like to remind everyone in the community to take extra precautions in order to keep safe and help us prevent further fires that can often occur during a heatwave."
For those who smoke, remember it only takes one cigarette to start a wildfire"
Fire safety advisory
Leanne adds, “For those who smoke, remember it only takes one cigarette to start a wildfire – so please ensure you always fully extinguish smoking materials before safely disposing of them. We also advise you to not have campfires in the countryside and to take any litter or rubbish with you, as reflective cans and glass can easily start a grassfire in the sun.”
“If you do discover a fire, move to a safe place and call the fire service on 999 immediately, providing as much detail as you can, including the size of fire, the exact location (including road or property name) and terrain. Never attempt to tackle the fire yourself, as fires can be extremely unpredictable and spread incredibly fast in this heat.”
Avoiding fire pits and braziers
KFRS is also urging the public to take extra care when using barbecues, fire pits, braziers and chimineas, and to ensure health and wellbeing is a priority in the hot, dry weather.
Leanne further stated, “It’s only natural to also want to be outside, enjoying a barbecue with friends, but it’s so important to take real care and manage them carefully. Keep them away from trees, buildings, sheds and shrubs, and always keep a large bucket of water on-hand in case of an emergency.”
Use recognized fire-lighters
Use only recognized fire-lighters or starter fuel for barbecues, braziers, fire pits, and never leave them unattended"
“Use only recognized fire-lighters or starter fuel for barbecues, braziers, fire pits or chimineas, and never leave them unattended. Once you’ve finished with it – ensure it has completely cooled and never put the ashes straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin, since this could easily start a fire. Finally, while many of us can enjoy the summer heat, for some it can leave them extremely vulnerable.
"Remember to drink plenty of water to keep hydrated, wear plenty of sunscreen, keep out of the sun between 11:00 and 15:00 and look after those most at risk, such as older people and small children. If you are worried about an older person in the heat, have young children or are pregnant, then let us keep you safe with a free Safe and Well home visit. If you would like to refer someone for a visit, please get in touch here or call our team on 0800 923 7000.”