Wildfires in the countryside

We tend to think that wildfires only occur in countries such as Spain, Canada and Australia.   If you can take your mind Wildfireback to April 2015, a grass fire a little bit closer to home in the South Wales Valley destroyed 222 acres of countryside.   Only this year in March, there was a fire in Shetland which ripped through 70 acres of grass and heather.   The Upton Heath fire in Dorset in 2011 damaged approximately 250 acres of the heath and required the mobilisation of 30 fire engines and 11 Land Rovers.

Wildfires and grass fires can occur because of the carelessness of people when discarding lit cigarettes or leaving their campfires unattended.   The deliberate setting of wildfires is, of course, illegal and a criminal offence.

What a relief to hear that wildfires are thankfully a rare occurrence.  But when they do occur, they cause massive devastation to our beautiful countryside and the eco-systems which have taken many years to develop.  If a fire encroaches on farmland, then crops, buildings and animals can be consumed.

The cost of a wildfire is immense and the affects are that:

  • nests and the young of birds that nest on the ground are destroyed
  • mammals such as red squirrel lose their forest homes
  • small animals like the common lizard are killed
  • landscapes are scorched and less attractive until they recover
  • peat-land can be damaged and that is important as a carbon store to help combat climate change

As with the Upton Heath fire, a wildfire will take up valuable resources which impacts on resources which could be required to tackle property fires and emergencies.

Fire Engine 2There are, however, things you can do to protect the countryside and keep you safe.

  • If you must have a fire, then make absolutely sure that it is in a designated safe area.  Never leave the fire or barbeque unattended.
  • Extinguish cigarettes and smoking materials properly BEFORE leaving your vehicle.
  • NEVER EVER throw cigarette ends out of car windows.  This recklessness could start a fire and destroy the surrounding crops and countryside.
  • Take home or dispose in a waste or recycling bin your bottles and glass – the heat generated from sunlight shining through the glass can start a fire.
  • Report it immediately if you see a fire in the countryside.  Leave the area as soon as possible – preferably downhill.  Fires spread more quickly uphill. A fire also creates its own wind and achieve a speed far faster than you can get out of its way.
  • Ensure that you know your location or landmark so that you can direct the fire service accordingly.

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Fire Risk Assessments for Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMOs)

It was reported recently that a property landlord in Nottingham was fined over £3,000 because he was negligent in protecting his tenants from the risk of fire.  The amount of the fine is sending out a strong message to landlords the importance of protecting their tenants from these risks.

You may be thinking that the law is only in place for people runnng a business and renting out several properties.  You will be wrong in this assumption. The law also applies to private individuals looking to rent out their properties – all landlords have a duty of care to their Court Gaveltenants.

If you are a private individual looking to rent out a property, it can be helpful to employ a lettings agent.  Please be aware that even if you employ a lettings agent the responsibility still lies with you, the owner of the property, to comply with fire safety regulations.  You, as a landlord, must rely on your own understanding of the law because you will be leaving yourself wide open to prosecution if your chosen lettings agent is not fully up to speed and there is a fire in the property.

To comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, you as a landlord will be responsible for:

  • Making provision for an adequate means of escape.
  • For all properties build after June 1992, mains operated smoke alarms should be fitted on every floor
  • For older properties, battery-operated smoke alarms should be fitted on every floor
  • Furnishings, made after 1950 should meet fire resistance regulations.
  • All dangerous appliances should be removed.

If you are privately renting out just one property, then you will have to adhere to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order which came into effect in October 2006   This law is not to “catch you out” but to protect your tenants.  The advice is not to put your profits above your tenants’ safety because all landlords have a duty of care to their tenants.

Remember, if you rent out your property as an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) or as a block of flats, you will require a fire risk assessment.

DB Fire Safety specialises in helping landlords meet their responsibilities under the Order aDB Fire Safety Contactnd carrying out fire risk assessments; serving Peterborough, Northampton, Cambridge, Leicester and Bedford.

To arrange a free consultation, please call David Black on 0800 772 0559






Fire Safety Training in Residential Care Premises

Fire safety training in residential care premises is a service provided by Peterborough based DB Fire Safety Limited.

Residential care is provided for people with wide-ranging needs such as:Care Homes

  • the elderly or the infirm
  • children
  • people who have special needs, for instance, they may have learning difficulties
  • people who may have mental and/or mobilty difficulties
  • residential care is also provided for people with addiction problems

These premises come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  With this in mind, it can be extremely challenging for the nominated “responsible person” to carry out a competent fire risk assessment.

When a fire starts it can spread very quickly.  There’s no time to even think about gathering up your valued   possessions.  The escape routes have to be meticulously planned to get people out quickly and safely because a fire can become life-threatening in only two minutes. Remember, initial practice is to move residents to areas of safety, however, speed is of the essence because, given the right circumstances, a care home can be engulfed in flames within a very short space of time. In those circumstances, it might be necessary to evacuate the entire building. Are your procedures sufficiently robust to allow for total evacuation; and have your staff received sufficient training in those procedures?

There’s no time to lose. Given the speed in which a fire can spread, it’s vital that the fire risk assessment is carried out by the competent nominated person or a specialist.  Fire risk assessments are something which cannot be ignored and left to chance.  DB Fire Safety will offer fire safety support to help your business fulfill legal requirements.

If your residential care premises accommodates more than 60 residents and has a complicated layout with various escape routes and is multi-storied, then you will almost definitely need to be assessed by a competent person with the comprehensive training, qualifications and experience in fire risk assessment.

It’s a requirement by law – “The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005” – which states tDB Fire Safety Contacthat you need to request such technical expertise to assist on fire safety matters.

For more information on how DB Safety can assist your residential care home in respect of fire risk assessment,  please feel free to contact me.