There have been over 100 wildfires in Northern Ireland since February 2023 and the public are being asked for their help, in order to reduce the number of incidents.
Although the weather has been changeable recently, ground and vegetation conditions are relatively dry which can cause fires to catch and spread quickly, particularly during spells of dry weather.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are asking the public, farmers and land managers for their help during current and upcoming periods of dry weather.
The NIEA, NIFRS and PSNI are advising visitors to rural areas, as well as residents, to act responsibly and be vigilant for wildfires especially over the May bank holidays. Many of the recent fires have spread rapidly due to the dry conditions, putting the public, property, firefighters and important habitats and species at risk.
Fires can take hold and spread quickly on dry ground, with potentially devastating consequences. Wildfires are illegal and the deliberate setting of wildfires is a criminal offence. Wildfires 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.
Please heed the following advice:
If you are in the countryside:
- If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately to the Fire & Rescue Service. Don't attempt to tackle fires that will take more than a bucket of water to put out. Leave the area as soon as possible.
- Report any suspicious behaviour to the Police.
- Avoid using open fires in the countryside.
- Extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials properly.
- Never throw cigarette ends out of car windows.
- Be considerate in parking vehicles so as not to impede access by emergency vehicles.
- Only use barbecues in designated and safe areas and never leave them unattended. Keep children and ball games away from barbecues.
- Ensure that barbecues are fully extinguished and cold before disposing of their contents. Better still take your used BBQ home for safe disposal.
- Do not 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.