19 October 2021
Dealing with wildfires unnecessarily draws Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) resources away from where they are needed most, protecting our community.
In a bid to manage and respond to wildfires, NIFRS Enniskillen District has been working with partner organisations to develop a wildfire management and response plan for Cuilcagh Anierin Mountain which is on the border of Counties Fermanagh, Leitrim and Cavan.
On Thursday 14 October 2021, NIFRS together with the partner agencies held an event for key site users and landowners to showcase the plan, with the aim of driving down the amount of wildfires in the Cuilcagh Anierin Mountain.
The partners involved are The CANN Project (Collaborative Action for the Natura Network), Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), PSNI, the Fire Services of Leitrim and Cavan, and the Pau Costa Foundation, an organisation that focuses on the prevention and management of forest fires.
Mark Smyth, Western Area Commander and Wildfire Lead, NIFRS, said:
“In addition to tying up NIFRS resources unnecessarily, there is also a huge environmental cost involved with wildfires. Therefore the purpose of this event was to increase awareness of how wildfires can be prevented; showcase the multi-agency response and management of wildfires before, during and after incidents; and also generate awareness of the environmental impact of wildfires in these upland areas.”
Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Errol Thompson, said;
“Fermanagh and Omagh District Council works closely with emergency services and other agencies to plan for and to help respond effectively to emergency situations. The district has a rich natural heritage and the consequence of avoidable incidents such as wildfires, not only results in a significant drain on resources for the emergency services but also destroys the environment and impacts negatively on our natural heritage”
Abby McSherry, Communications and Outreach Officer, The CANN Project, said:
“Wildfire planning creates a really useful tool to help focus habitat management in places where small changes can have a big impact. The partnership approach demonstrated in events like this is vital for the long-term health of our peatlands.”
Mark Hammond, Head of Natural Environment Operations from NIEA, said:
“Wildfires are a threat to the environment and our communities and are a drain on public resources. This event in Fermanagh is a great example of partnership working, showing what can be achieved when we come together to tackle such issues.”
PSNI Chief Inspector, Rory Hoy, said:
“The vast majority of wildfires are as a result of carelessness or a deliberate act. Such actions may lead to a criminal prosecution. Not only do these fires cause widespread damage to our countryside and wildlife but they can also put lives and property at risk.”
Chief Fire Officer with Cavan County Fire Service, Noel O’Reilly, said:
“Wildfires are wholly preventable, and if fire crews from Cavan, Leitrim, or our colleagues in the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service are dealing with avoidable and environmentally destructive incidents on Cuilcagh, then there are fewer emergency resources available to respond to incidents in the community. I would appeal to all who enjoy this wonderful landscape to work with us to help reduce the number of wildfires in this region.”