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Don't Cause Fires While Enjoying the Moors

Press Release: 23/04/2021

 

MoorlandNOW that the days are getting longer and the weather’s getting better, Tameside Council and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) have come together to ask people to take care they don’t cause fires while enjoying open spaces.

The key to doing that is to avoid any kind of flame. The vast majority of wildfires aren’t caused deliberately, they are the result of simple thoughtlessness such a discarded cigarette or most often the heat from a disposable picnic barbecue.

Three years ago a blaze burned above Stalybridge for several days, destroying 4,500 acres (18sq km) of land and killing many animals. In Carrbrook, 150 residents had to be evacuated and troops were mobilised to assist firefighters from 15 services. The smoke affected air quality across the north west of England and could even be seen from space.

Since then, the moorland around Tameside has been subject to a public space protection order (PSPO). This prohibits activities identified as carrying a significant risk of causing wildfires, such as possession of a barbecue (it doesn’t have to be lit), the building or lighting of any kind of fire, lighting fireworks, or having Chinese lanterns carrying an open flame.

Contravention of any of these regulations is a criminal offence. Penalties range from a £100 fine to £1,000 (following a summons).

Tameside Council’s head of community safety, John Gregory, said: “After a long winter, and with covid restrictions gradually being lifted, it’s understandable people want to get out and enjoy the beautiful moorland above the borough.

“As an authority we encourage residents to exercise in the fresh air, but we also want to stress the need for fire-safety, and that includes smoking. If you want to have a picnic, pack ready-prepared food you can eat without warming. Don’t even think of taking a disposable barbecue with you.

“It needs only a brief spell without rain for moorland grass to become tinder-dry, allowing flames to spread very quickly. There have already been wildfires in neighbouring areas. We want to make sure we don’t get any in Tameside.”

GMFRS area manager Paul Duggan (head of prevention) added: “The memories of the moorland fires in 2018 remain fresh in the mind of everyone involved, from our firefighters who worked incredibly hard to put the fires out, to the residents who were forced from their homes.

“Moorland and wildfires can be started in a number of ways. Sadly, many fires in the countryside are started deliberately. However, some can break out by people being careless with barbecues, campfires or not disposing of cigarettes properly.

“Our message is strong and clear – never have a barbecue or campfire on the moors or start a fire deliberately. Many people think it’s just the flame from a barbecue that sets the moorland on fire, but it’s actually the heat that often sets peat and dry moorland alight.

“In 2019 GMFRS worked closely with colleagues in Oldham and Tameside councils, which resulted in public space protection orders now being in place in parts of the two boroughs. This means that anyone found lighting a fire, barbecue, or other objects like fireworks and sky lanterns, will be given a fixed penalty notice of or face prosecution.”

For more information on moorland fire safety visit www.manchesterfire.gov.uk/staying-safe/what-we-do/seasonal-safety/countryside-safety-advice

 

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