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Fire safety outside

There are thousands of acres of countryside to be enjoyed across Norfolk, but many are burned and completely destroyed - along with the habitat of wildlife and livelihood of rural communities - because of careless actions that could be prevented.

Some fires in the countryside are started deliberately, but most are due to careless and thoughtless use of disposable barbecues, discarded cigarettes and littering.

Guidance to improve your fire safety while in the countryside 

Please think if need to start a fire at all, but if you must have a fire outside:

  • Build it with care, downwind at least 10 metres away from any trees, buildings, tents or caravans or vehicles. Do not build it anywhere near standing crops.
  • Keep it small
  • Please also consider your neighbours. Smoke can be a real nuisance and this is especially the case if you’re trying to enjoy some fresh air, or they have health problems which may be affected by smoke.
  • Be aware of changing wind speed and direction
  • Never build fires in forestry or woodland
  • Clear the area of grass and leaves and brush the ground to form a clear circle of earth. At the centre dig a small pit to contain the fire.
  • Make the fire stack so that it will collapse inward when burning
  • Watch for flying embers and sparks
  • Do not leave the fire unattended
  • Never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive a fire
  • Do not throw any spent batteries, aerosols, camping gas cartridges or cylinders onto a fire
  • Make sure the fire is fully extinguished before you leave it. Douse any embers or ashes with water.
  • Remove any remaining debris and litter and put in a bin or take it home with you. Bottles and tin cans will not burn but they create other hazards in the countryside.
  • Be aware that discarded glass left in direct sunlight, particularly during prolonged hot, dry weather, would have the sun’s rays focused sufficiently to cause smouldering
  • Many of the most damaging fires in rural areas break out as the result of the careless disposal of cigarettes dropped thoughtlessly from a car as it passes through. Never throw lit cigarettes from a vehicle.
  • Be vigilant around deliberate fire-setting. We’ve seen a rise in deliberate fires -  people actively setting light to vehicles, rubbish, bins and household items. These fires quickly become uncontrolled and a risk to property and life. Deliberate fires can have devastating effects in our countryside, forests, heathlands and farms - please do not fly-tip rubbish.

NFRS advice during hot and dry weather

There are a number of hazards associated with warmer weather and drier conditions. These can all lead to greater demand on emergency services - from barbecue fires and uncontrolled bonfires, to grass fires – and increases the dangers for all of us.

Even though we have not banned the use of open fires or non-gas barbecues we would ask you not use them if the ground and ground cover is dry and yellow. If you do decide to use open fires and non-gas barbecues please be extremely careful and remember that you do so at your own risk. 

Please consider that flying embers from the fires could cause a fire in an adjacent area. It does not take much to start a devastating fire whether it be to stubble / undergrowth / standing crop - it will soon spread and could seriously put lives at risk including those of our hardworking firefighters.

In addition take care when using multi-fuel stoves and gas barbecues. Take extra steps to stay safe, do not leave them unattended, increase ground clearance and place them on hard standing away from the ground. Owners of camp sites and other similar premises should carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment to reduce the risk of fires starting and spreading from this type of fire risk.

Further guidance

Contact us if you require further information or have another community safety enquiry.

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