The local fire service has issued tips for keeping safe this summer
As schools start to break up for summer, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is asking residents and holidaymakers to think about the little things they can do to make a big difference and reduce their risk of fire – both at home and on holiday.
Darren Peters, Area Manager, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service says:
"We want everyone to stay safe and have a fun summer. But during the summer months we see an increase in preventable fires.
"Warmer weather and travelling longer distances increases the risk of vehicle fires. Poor car maintenance can often be the cause. Take a few minutes to check your vehicle before you travel, or you might be searching for a new car and replacement possessions if it’s destroyed by fire."
In the summer months the fire service also sees an increase in fires caused by outdoor activities, such as campfires, barbecues and bonfires. In May, crews from across the Service attended a wildfire in Kingswear, caused by a disposable barbecue. This incident took crews over 70 hours to put out, using more than 60 fire engines.
Darren Peters adds:
"Many of the incidents we attend are caused by people not thinking about the dangers of fire or realising how quickly things can escalate. It only takes a spark to create a big fire that destroys huge areas of countryside, so we are asking everyone to be aware of the potential danger and take a few simple steps to protect themselves, their families, their property and our open spaces."
As part of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service's summer safety campaign, here are some of the little things that could make a big difference in keeping everyone safe this summer:
1. Check your car – before heading out on the road
Most accidental vehicle fires start due to lack of maintenance.
The service attends between 600-700 vehicle fires each year, with a peak in July. Firefighters suggest you make some simple pre-journey checks, as recommended by your vehicle manual or reputable car garage; for example checking oil, tyres and coolant levels. Don’t ignore warning lights – these are early indicators to a potential problem.
2. Remember the dangers of fire outdoors - both at home and on holiday
Recently, the fire service has seen an increase in outdoor fires, many of these caused by small barbecues and fires getting out of control. There was a peak in May this year, when they attended over 250 outdoor fires. 100 of those were in residential areas and involved burning rubbish, vegetation or barbecues that had got out of control.
These fires can often be prevented with a little planning, such as:
- Making sure your barbecue is placed on a non-flammable surface, and is away from fences, trees and sheds.
- Never using petrol or paraffin to start, or revive, your barbecue - use only barbecue fire lighters or starter fuel on cold coals.
- Never putting hot ashes straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin - they could melt the plastic and cause a fire. Either wait for the ashes to cool naturally, or use plenty of sand or water. Then think about very careful disposal.
- Not having bonfires – make use of composting or garden waste disposal instead. If you must have one, use a metal incinerator to contain it, and locate it well away from anything flammable – including trees, long, dry grass, sheds, houses, garages and cars.
3. Protect our countryside – a small spark can start a big fire
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service attend over 500 fires on grassland, woodland and crops each year. They usually see a peak in wildfires in July, coinciding with school holidays and long sustained periods of dry and hot weather.
Wildfires can be caused by just a tiny spark, or from a barbecue placed on dry ground.
They can be prevented by:
- Taking a picnic instead of having barbecue or campfires in open spaces; sandwiches are safer.
- Take your litter home with you - discarded cigarettes, disposable barbecues and even discarded glass bottles caught under the summer sun can start a wildfire.