‘Stay safe in the sunshine’ says Essex fire service

WITH the county set to bake under scorching temperatures and bright sunshine this weekend, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is warning people to take extra care so they don’t start field fires.

Over the last week the service has seen a huge increase in field fires as the hot weather has created tinder dry conditions.

The huge field fire which ripped through Grinshill Woods in Shropshire on July 10 shows how quickly field fires can take hold and spread and how fiercely they can burn. More than 40 firefighters were needed to tackle the fires and flames affected more than 400 metres of woodland.

Divisional officer Neil Fenwick said: “The weather is set to be fantastic this weekend and we know a lot of people will be heading out to enjoy it either by taking days out to the countryside or by having a barbeque in their gardens.

“All we are asking is that people take a little bit of extra care when they do this.

“This is especially true for smokers. Carelessly discarded cigarette ends can easily start a fire in these warm and dry conditions. I It is vitally important that smokers extinguish their cigarettes completely and dispose of the butts properly rather than just throw them out of their car window.”


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• Avoid open fires in the countryside. Always have them in safe, designated areas.

• Never throw cigarette butts out of car windows – they could start a fire and endanger lives.

• Don’t leave bottles or glass in woodlands. Sunlight shining through glass can start a fire. Take them

home or put them in a waste or recycling bin.

• If you see a fire in the countryside, call 999 straight away.

• Don’t attempt to tackle a fire that can’t be put out with a bucket of water – leave the area as so soon as possible and call 999.

When having barbeques ensure that you:

• Follow the safety instructions provided with disposable barbeques.

• Never use a barbeque indoors.

• Never leave a barbeque unattended.

• Make sure your barbeque is well away from sheds, fences, trees, shrubs or garden waste.

• Use enough charcoal to cover the base of the barbecue, but no more (normally around 5cms or 2inches).

• Keep children, pets and garden games away from the cooking area.

• After cooking, make sure the barbecue is cool before moving it.

• Empty ashes onto bare garden soil, not into dustbins or wheelie bins. If they’re hot, they can melt the plastic and cause a fire.

• Enjoy yourself, but don’t drink too much alcohol if you are in charge of the barbeque.

• Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby as a precaution.

• Store gas cylinders outside and not in direct sunlight.

• Take care when turning bottled gas barbeques on and off.

• Make sure the tap is turned off before changing the gas cylinder.

• After cooking, turn the gas supply off first and then the barbeque control. This will stop any gas from


• If you suspect a leak, turn off the gas cylinder and try brushing soapy water around all joints, watching for bubbles.

• Make sure all joints are tightened, safe and secure.

• Always change gas cylinders outdoors.

DO Fenwick said: “We all want to enjoy the warm weather, but it is important that we do so responsibly. Just a moment of carelessness can spark a huge fire which could spread incredibly quickly and have devastating consequences.”