Fire crews from across Norfolk continue to work around the clock to deal with a large number of fires in the open across the county- with the recent hot weather leading to a huge spike in demand.
Since the start of June, crews from Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service have attended a total of 191 open fire incidents in the hot and dry weather. During the same period last year (June 1- July 18) it was 109 and the year before was 32 open fires.
“Our fire service staff continue to give so much over and above the call of duty. Our retained firefighters are making themselves available for longer periods of time to offer increased levels of cover and many of the crews are taking reduced breaks so that they can remain available. They are returning many times to protracted and demanding incidents.
“As well as these wildfires, the service continues to deal with other emergency fire and road traffic collision calls and its prevention and protection work across the county to do all it can to keep our county safe. Despite the high levels of calls, our county remains in safe hands thanks to the dedication of this service,” said Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee.
Since the start of 2018, there have been 261 open fires across Norfolk, with 76 of them believed to have been deliberate. This compares to 366 open fires for the whole of 2017.
Many of the fires started during the current hot weather have been classed as deliberate, although not all were reckless or malicious (for example this includes deliberately lit bonfires that got out of control).
Last weekend, NFRS crews responded to 50 open fire calls, including several large field fires. Since then, they have responded to many more, including large open fires at Weybourne, Felthorpe, Saxthorpe, Great Ellingham, Horsey, Horsford and Hales.
“Open fires can quickly spread and endanger life. Some of these incidents were not intentional but if you are somewhere and a fire starts, it is hugely important that you call 999 as quickly as possible to prevent a small fire becoming a bigger fire,” said Garry Collins, Head of Protection and Prevention at Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service.
“We continue to ask the public not to start campfires and bonfires in these tinder-dry conditions. Please heed the current advice and suspend all use of naked flames and take extreme care when discarding cigarettes. The impact of these careless acts presents a huge risk to lives and property and many of the recent fires could have been avoided.”
Other fires can quickly spread to the open, such as bin fires and vehicle fires. Similarly, open fires can cause extensive damage to property and endanger life. In one incident on Sunday in Blofield, two homes were fire-damaged when a fire in shrubland spread to nearby properties.
There have been a large number of field fires in recent days, some spreading quickly and requiring 6-8 fire crews to put them out. In the case of some field fires, turning over and cropping fields has caused flints on the ground to spark and caused unintentional fires.
Norfolk County Council is encouraging the public to read www.norfolk.gov.uk/insafehands and respond to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s consultation on governance of Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service.
The consultation can be found here: www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/NorfolkPCC-Case-for-Change