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The London Fire Brigade are concerned there could be a sharp increase in the number of grass fires this weekend as the capital looks forward to a heat wave.
With forecasters expecting the hot spell to last for two more days, fire chiefs have issued an urgent warning advising the public to not flick lit cigarettes on to grass land.
During a previous heat wave in July 2010 temperatures soared to the mid to high 20s, and the Brigade was called to 37 grass fires a day.
The warning is especially important during the Fire Brigade Union’s strike on 18 July taking place between 6am and 8am and 11pm and 1am, when grass fires won’t be attended unless there is a risk to life or property.
As with previous strikes, the Brigade will have 27 fire engines based at strategic locations. Contingency crews will deal with emergencies across London during the strikes, but it will not replicate a normal service.
The public are also being reminded to take extra care if they are planning a barbecue during the hot weather, particularly if it will take place on open land. The Brigade is mindful if people don’t take care there could also be a spate of barbecue fires that could easily be prevented with a little common sense.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said:
“Grass fires and barbecue fires can easily be prevented if people just take extra care.
“A small spark from a cigarette is often all it takes to start a grass fire in these dry conditions so it really is important that smokers dispose of their cigarettes properly. Drivers also need to take care not to throw cigarettes out of car windows as they can easily burn grass verges. People barbecuing on open land should also make sure that they extinguish them properly when finished with.
“There is contingency cover during the strike but it isn’t a replacement for a normal service. The contingency crews will not attend a grass fire with no risk to life or property, so it’s vitally important that Londoners help us stop them from starting in the first place.”
Here are some tips on preventing grass fires:
• Never leave camp fires or barbecues unattended and extinguish them properly after you have finished using them.
• Clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to avoid them magnifying the sun and starting a fire.
• Dispose of smoking materials such as cigarettes safely.
• Explain to children the dangers of playing with and lighting fires.
During the strike contingency crews will attend:
Serious fires – like those in Londoners’ homes – confirmed by a 999 call
Fires that involve gas cylinders or hazardous substances.
Vehicle fires or boat fires
Fires at railway stations and rail and road tunnels or fires involving people in underground tunnels
Aircraft or train crashes
Road traffic collisions
During the strike contingency crews may not be able to attend:
Small grass fires and other outdoor fires such as trees, hedges or undergrowth alight.
Rubbish fires (including fires in bins and skips) and fires on open ground.
Animal rescues (these will be referred to the RSPCA).
People shut in lifts (owners of buildings are responsible for ensuring arrangements are in place to release people from faulty lifts).
Automatic fire alarms – a fire engine will only be sent when the fire has been confirmed by a 999 call.