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The recent warm dry weather has led fire chiefs to issue an urgent grass fires warning as the Fire Brigades Union strike on Saturday.
The Brigade is asking the public to be vigilant and make sure they do not flick lit cigarettes on to grass land. This is especially vital during the firefighters’ strike on 21 June between 10am and 5pm as incidents of grass fires won’t be attended unless there is a risk to life or property.
As during previous strikes, the Brigade will have 27 fire engines based at strategic locations and contingency crews will deal with emergencies across London during the strikes but it will not replicate a normal service.
In 2010 - the last World Cup year – it was the busiest period for grass fires over the past five years with 2,858 incidents. During the South African World Cup there were on average 26 grass fires a day.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said:
“Grass 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.