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Play Your Part in Keeping Berkshire Safe this Summer

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is reminding people to play their part in reducing the risk of fire when they’re out and about this summer.

Last year’s unprecedented temperatures, combined with a period of drought, saw the Service respond to over 250 different fires in the open between June and August. On Tuesday, 19 July alone, Thames Valley Fire Control received over 550 emergency 999 calls.

Gail Muirhead, Prevention Manager said: “Last summer, we experienced an extremely busy period as we responded to an extraordinary amount of fires in the open, wildfires and water-related emergencies.

“A 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. Ensure rubbish, especially glass, is discarded safely and please only have barbecues in safe, designated areas.

“Disposable barbecues that have been abandoned can still cause fires due to smouldering hot coals. They can pose a real fire risk for some time after the flames die down. They need to be put right out and cooled before being safely thrown away. 

“Whilst our staff are well trained and equipped to handle these incidents, we want people across the County to play their part in reducing the demands on the Service. A little bit of extra care can go a long way towards preventing an emergency.

“In hot and dry conditions, wildfires can spread extremely quickly. If you do come across a fire in the open, get yourself to a safe place and call 999 immediately. Do not attempt to investigate or extinguish the fire yourself.”

Four firefighters stand in a field with a fire in the open in the background.

The Service is asking people to take extra care to reduce the risk of fire and keep themselves safe if they plan to spend time outdoors

  • Dispose of litter properly – lit cigarettes and broken glass can cause fires.
  • Do not leave fires or barbecues unattended.
  • Position barbecues on an even, fire resistant surface.
  • Make sure fires and barbecues are properly extinguished after use.
  • Do not smoke or use candles inside a tent.
  • Do not cook inside a small tent, near flammable materials or long grass. They can all set alight easily.
  • Do not be tempted to swim in open water such as rivers, lakes, canals or quarries. You have no idea what is beneath the surface and unseen currents or reeds could pull you under.
  • Avoid bridge and ledge jumping at all times, often referred to as ‘tombstoning’, as this can cause potentially fatal cold water shock, even on the warmest day.
  • If you find yourself in trouble in the water, float to live. Do not panic, float on your back until the effects of cold water shock pass. When the cold water shock has passed, you can then swim to the edge or call for help.
  • If someone else falls into the water, call 999 straight away. Do not enter the water yourself.

If you discover a fire

  • Do not be tempted to investigate the fire or attempt to extinguish it yourself.
  • Leave the area immediately and call 999. Ask for the Fire and Rescue Service and try and give a precise description of where the fire is.
  • Do not return unless told that it is safe to do so.

For more information about how to stay safe outdoors, please visit our warm weather advice pages.