20 April 2023
As warmer weather approaches, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) is calling for the public to be vigilant to help prevent wildfires this summer.
Last year NIFRS dealt with 1,239 wildfires. All of these wildfires were caused by human behaviour and are preventable if everyone is vigilant to the risks of wildfire.
Group Commander Ryan Thompson, NIFRS Lead Wildfire Officer, said:
“NIFRS responded to 1,239 preventable wildfires across Northern Ireland last year taking our Firefighters away from local towns and communities, where they would be ready to respond when they are needed most.
“It is encouraging that there has been a 37% drop in wildfires last year compared to the previous year, but we still need to be vigilant as every wildfire is completely avoidable.
“Wildfires are caused by human behaviour and so we are calling on the community to be alert to the risk of wildfires when enjoying the countryside. Don’t use open fires in the countryside and don’t be careless with smoking materials, barbeques or any other flames.
“However, often these fires are being started deliberately. Purposely setting a wildfire is a criminal offence, they can be devastating to the environment and wildlife, and they ultimately put people’s lives at risk. If you see someone deliberately setting a fire please report it immediately.
“Responding to wildfires also puts an added pressure on our Service and our partner agencies who are frequently required to respond alongside us. It is gruelling work for our Firefighters as it takes us hours, and sometimes even days, to put wildfires out.
“We want the public to enjoy our beautiful countryside and green spaces, but to do so responsibly and by following our safety advice.
“The responsibility of preventing wildfires belongs to all of us and we all need to do our part and stay vigilant.”