Wildfires and heatwaves

Norfolk was recent witness to the devastating impact of extreme heat and wildfires. 20 homes were destroyed, countryside, much loved natural landscapes and wildlife were harmed. We are well equipped to deal with the challenges of fire but we can all help to reduce the devastating impact at home, while enjoying our environment.

Please be considerate:

  • Don’t drop cigarettes or any burning item onto dry ground
  • Ensure cigarettes are fully extinguished even when smoking outside. Don’t throw them from car windows where they may land on dry ground or grass by the roadside
  • Don’t leave glass products behind when enjoying time outside. Direct sunlight through glass can cause fire risk
  • Don’t use barbecues in fields, open grassland, parks and forests, especially during periods of hot, dry weather
  • Don’t use single-use, portable barbecues. They a significant fire risk but you also cannot recycle any part of it. Ensure it is fully extinguished and cold before safe disposal.
  • Don’t use barbecues on balconies. Smouldering ash can be carried away towards dry ground/grassland or neighbouring properties
  • Be aware of using barbecues, fire pits or bonfires around thatched properties. It only takes one spark or ash/embers moved by wind to cause accidental fire
  • Avoid driving on long, dry grass/fields – your vehicle’s exhaust can reach more than 1000 degrees. If you must drive onto grassy areas, don’t leave your engine running when parked. Remain vigilant.

Protect your Home

Embers and wind movement of fire tend to be the cause of most wildfires particularly those reaching property in rural areas. Embers can travel when driven by windy conditions which can cause spot fires further away. Wildfires have sadly been witnessed recently by many Norfolk residents. The impact has been very clear. This has raised awareness of the potential fire risks during periods of extreme temperatures for those living near to:

  • the countryside
  • agricultural land
  • fields

One of the most important actions you can take to protect your home, belongings and family is to ensure you have suitable and adequate home insurance

To keep safe, you may wish to consider:

Prepare for the risk of wildfire

  • Have an escape plan for your safety in the event of a wildfire. Make sure your family know what to do and where to assemble, think about care for pets and domestic animals.
  • You may wish to discuss this escape plan with near neighbours or your local community.
  • Make sure your property is clearly marked. A house number or name should be clearly visible from the road or main access point. This helps us to easily locate your address in the event of fire.
  • If you have decking, try not to use the area underneath for storage and remove any combustible materials/debris regularly. Where possible, keep storage of furniture to a minimum.
  • Check your fences and make sure there are no gaps between overlapping panels or between you and a neighbour’s fence. Debris and embers could build up in these gaps causing a fire.
  • Consider replacing wooden/plastic/other combustible material fencing or gates with metal. This will help to reduce a fire spread.
  • Keep your driveway, paths, gardens, patios and decking free from rubbish and debris to reduce combustible sources.
  • Keep trees on your property trimmed back and away from the house, don’t allow branches to overhang into gutters or towards the roof.
  • Be aware of weather reports, especially during extreme conditions. Avoid using barbeques or lighting bonfires in the garden to reduce risk.
  • Think about home fire safety and ensure you have working smoke alarms on each level of your home. Test them regularly and make an escape plan. Know what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Consider storing important documents. Paperwork such as Wills, Birth Certificates and precious photographs can be stored in a fireproof safe or box.

If you are outside and witness wildfire

  • Stay calm
  • Find in a safe location (away from vegetation and smoke)
  • If you are in driving, close all windows and vents
  • Call 999 and inform us of your location – you could use a locator app such as Ordnance Survey or What3Words to help if you’re unsure
  • If you are at home and witness wildfire
  • Stay calm, find a place of safety, be prepared to evacuate and do not attempt to extinguish the fire yourself
  • Keep doors and windows closed, but please don’t lock them
  • Call 999 immediately, share full address or make use of What3Words to help you
  • Let us know the best access point to get to the property. If safe to do so, stand by the access point and speak to emergency services on arrival.
  • Be Prepared. Evacuating your home may be your safest option in emergency and having your families’ essentials helps when it really matters. Consider valuables, medication, mobile phones, chargers, money, clothing, food and don’t forget your pets! It is worth photographing important documents, passports, and recording important phone numbers. Keep these handy and make sure everyone knows where they are. Consider always reverse parking your vehicle into the driveway. This will allow for easy departure, this is also good advice for the winter season.

In the event of any fire, or if you witness a smouldering fire, please do not hesitate to call 999. We can react quickly, bringing the fire under control and reducing the potential for that fire to spread further. The sooner we respond allows us to ensure the right resources are mobilised keeping our service ready to act to all emergency calls.