Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Wildfire alert as temperatures set to soar this weekend

A gorse fire in Co Galway.
A gorse fire in Co Galway.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Forest owners and managers are being warned to prepare for likely outbreaks of fire as temperatures are set to soar this weekend.

The warning comes from the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture after a number of wildfires broke out in recent weeks around the country.

Now, with temperatures expected to hit close to 20 degrees this weekend, as the current high pressure weather patterns continue, a High Fire Risk (Condition Orange) warning is has been issued especially for upland vegetation areas.

The risk is expected to peak this Saturday (April 8) and depending on rainfall, this risk condition will remain in place until Monday afternoon, April 10.

All forest owners and managers being advised to prepare for likely outbreaks of fire.

The Department says fire lines, fire plans and fire suppression equipment should be reviewed and made ready, while contingency plans around insurance, helicopter contracts etc should be checked and confirmed.

It says the need for increased vigilance at this time cannot be ‘overstated’.

Forest owners, farmers, rural dwellers and other countryside users are asked to be extremely vigilant regarding fire activity, to report any suspicious or illegal activity to the Gardai and to report all fires immediately to the Fire and Emergency Services via 112/999.

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The Department has recommended that forest owners and managers consider fire mitigation measures they can put in place now to help prevent loss or damage to forest resources through fire.

1. Risk assessment:

It says property owners should assess their property with regard to fire risk and mitigation factors and check if there a risk of fire.

2. Prepare:

Fire Plans should be developed for all forests, including a map showing access routes and assembly points for fire fighting personnel and equipment and potential sources of water. The plan should also include contact details for the emergency services, local private and Coillte foresters, neighbouring landowners and forest owners in order to summon help should the need arise.

3. Be Vigilant:

Forest owners should discuss their concerns about fire with neighbouring landowners in advance of the fire season. Forest owners should cooperate with fire planning and share the burden of fire patrols and vigilance during high risk periods.

4. Obey the Law:

It is an offence to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated between March 1 and August 31 in any year. Report all suspicious or illegal activity to Gardai immediately.

5. Report Fires Immediately:

If you see a fire, do not delay; report it to the Fire and Emergency Services straight away. Do not wait for somebody else to make the call. Dial 999 or 112. You will not be billed by the fire service or local authority for making the call.

Give clear details as regards location, where at all possible using a national grid reference and any other useful information such as the size of the fire, wind direction, proximity to dwellings or forestry etc.

6. Report Losses:

If your forest is damaged or destroyed, report this loss as soon as possible to your local Gardai station and to the Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Johnstown Castle Estate, Co. Wexford.

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