Be fire safe, be summer safe

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NORTHERN Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) is encouraging everyone to be fire safe and summer safe by acting responsibly during the summer holidays.

NIFRS wants everyone to relax and enjoy the great outdoors during the summer, but to remember to take the necessary fire safety precautions and to follow basic life saving safety advice.

NIFRS is also making a fresh appeal for everyone, and in particular young people, to recognise the very serious consequences that deliberate fire setting in the countryside or making hoax calls can have on the Fire and Rescue Service and the whole community.

Kevin O’Neill, Group Commander, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said, “At this time of year people are on holidays, in a relaxed frame of mind or away from their usual routine and unfortunately they can become complacent about their fire safety or indeed their general safety. We play a central role in protecting our community and we want people to be fire safe and summer safe over the coming months.

“If you are on holiday, camping, caravanning, boating or enjoying the countryside, you need to consider your fire safety and the safety of your family. Ensure you, and the people you are with, know what to do in the event of an emergency and have taken all the necessary steps to ensure that fire doesn’t become your uninvited guest on your holiday.

“Similarly if you happen to be in the vicinity of water, act responsibly and take all the basic safety precautions. Be aware that swimming in a river, lake, or the ocean is different from swimming in a pool. You need more energy to handle the currents and other changing conditions and no one can anticipate other hidden dangers that may arise. Pay attention to any warning signs posted in the area - they are put there for a reason.

“Most water-related incidents can be avoided by knowing how to stay safe and following a few simple guidelines.”

“As a Fire & Rescue Service the summer months present different challenges for us to deal with. Often the dry conditions lead to an increase in the number of gorse fires. Sadly the majority of these fires are caused deliberately and I am asking for the whole community to be vigilant over the coming months for anyone starting fires deliberately and any suspicious behaviour should be reported to the police immediately.

“When someone makes the conscious decision to go out into our countryside or up our mountains to start fires deliberately they are putting not only Firefighters’ lives at risk but also the lives of everyone in the local community.

“The community in Northern Ireland needs to decide where they want their Fire & Rescue Service. Up mountains tackling deliberately set fires or at their local Fire Stations ready to deal with life threatening emergencies and protecting our community.

“Gorse fires can also be caused accidentally by something as simple as throwing a cigarette from a car window, leaving a glass bottle on the ground or not extinguishing a barbeque properly. Your seemingly innocent mistake could well cause a severe gorse fire that destroys acres of countryside and ties up firefighting resources for prolonged periods.”

Traditionally at this time of year hoax calls to NIFRS tend to spike. NIFRS is also reminding people about the serious consequences of their actions should they make hoax calls to their Fire & Rescue Service.

Kevin O’Neill added, “I am appealing to the public and in particular at this time of year, to children and young people not to make hoax calls to their Fire & Rescue Service. Not only are you wasting our time and valuable resources but you may be putting your own family or friends in danger if the closest Fire Appliance is out responding to a hoax call, another Fire Appliance from further afield will have to respond in the event of a real emergency.

“I am please to say that there has been a reduction in the number of hoax calls over the last number of years, nonetheless one hoax call is one too many and I would appeal to the community and to parents to educate their children about the serious consequences of their actions. Help us to deliver the Fire & Rescue Service you deserve by challenging those responsible for making hoax calls.

“The Fire & Rescue Service doesn’t want your summer to be affected by fire or tragedy - take simple fire safety steps, act responsibly, remain vigilant to danger and help us in our work in protecting our community.”

Further information on summer fire safety and summer safety advice can be found on www.nifrs.org.