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Last updated: 01/06/2020, 1:03 PM

Brigade issues grass fire warning ahead of the hottest day of the year

01/06/2020 12:30
London-wide
Safety warnings

As London prepares for what could be the hottest day of the year so far tomorrow, the Brigade is concerned that it could be a bumper day for grass fires as the dry weather continues.

Despite the lockdown, there were more fires in London in the last four weeks than there were in the same period last year. Outdoor fires, which include grass fires, have risen by 75 per cent in comparison to 2019, with the warm, dry weather a significant factor.

As government guidelines are being relaxed, many of us are now able to enjoy an unlimited time outdoors with friends and family in parks and public spaces. If you are heading out to enjoy the sunshine, help us to reduce the risk of dangerous grass fires by avoiding barbecuing in parks and taking care if smoking.

Grass fire prevention tips

Read our safety advice here

London Fire Brigade Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Charlie Pugsley, said: “With more people being able to spend time outdoors in the sunshine there is a big concern that grass fires will spike during the hottest day of the year.

“When the ground is extremely dry, grassland and parks will burn quickly when exposed to even the smallest of sparks.

“We urge you not to have barbecues in parks, public spaces or balconies. Disposable barbecues that have been discarded and abandoned can still end up causing a fire as hot coals can smoulder and pose a real fire risk for some time after the flames die down – they need to be put right out and cooled before being thrown away.”

“The most common causes of grass fires are discarded cigarettes. Even ones thrown from car windows can ignite dry grass verges and spread quickly. Whilst it is safer to smoke outdoors, please always make sure cigarettes are disposed of carefully, or even better yet - stop smoking altogether.”
In the first half of 2020, firefighters have dealt with over 950 grass fires.

Grass and bushes alight in Wimbledon in April 2020

In April this year, firefighters tackled four substantial grass fires across the capital, with three of these happening within days of each other and resulting in over 21 acres of grassland and shrubland being damaged.

If you see a grass fire, don't attempt to put it out yourself as grass fires can travel very quickly and change direction without warning. Call the Brigade straight away and let us know where the fire is.

Although there is a respite expected as the week continues, with London basking in sunshine over the last few weeks the ground is still exceptionally dry which increases the risk of grass fires.

Brigade top tips on grass fires:

  • Avoid having barbecues in parks, public spaces and balconies.
  • 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- don’t drop cigarettes on dry ground and don’t drop them out of car windows, as they may land on dry grass and lead to a fire.
  • Never leave barbecues unattended and extinguish them properly after you have finished using them.
  • Disposable barbecues that have been discarded and abandoned can still end up causing a fire as they will continue to retain heat after use – they need to be put right out and cooled before being thrown away.
  • Do not barbecue on balconies, the wind can carry smouldering ash onto nearby grassland.
  • If you’re barbecuing near dry grass have a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergency use.
  • Be aware that children, animals, balls or anything else may knock over barbecues, increasing the risk of grass fires, especially when in a busy parks or public spaces.
  • Explain to children the dangers of playing with and lighting fires.

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