Concern after increase in gorse fires

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With the arrival of the warmer weather, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) is warning of the extreme dangers and serious consequences of deliberate fire setting in the countryside.

Last year (2017/18) NIFRS attended 2,072 gorse fires across Northern Ireland, representing a 27% increase from the previous year. This included 39 within the local area with 15 in Banbridge and 24 in Armagh.

Last year (2017/18) NIFRS attended 2,072 gorse fires across Northern Ireland, representing a 27% increase from the previous year. From May 1 – 8 2017 Firefighters tacked 511 gorse fires of which 466 were started deliberately. The majority of these incidents (407) occurred in either our Southern (245) or Western (162) Area Commands.

NIFRS is reminding everyone that dealing with these types of incidents not only puts Firefighters’ lives at risk but also the lives of the local community.

Mark Smyth, Group Commander and NIFRS Lead Officer for Wildfires explained: “Deliberate fire setting in the countryside is still a significant issue for Northern Ireland. The current spell of dry, sunny weather is providing a tinderbox landscape with conditions ripe for gorse fires. We have already dealt with the first gorse fires of the year in the last number of weeks so we are appealing to the public to help us by acting responsibly. Tackling gorse and wildland fires is challenging for us. It means deploying Firefighters and equipment to remote locations. This can be for a prolonged period of time with our Crews working under hazardous and intense heat to bring them under control. These fires can easily spread and even a slight change in wind direction can pose a serious risk to life, property and environment. Alongside partner agencies and community groups, we have been working to address the problem and the reduction in gorse fires we have attended is testament to this work.”