There are 58 locations within the Service which include fire stations, mechanic workshops and administration buildings. Along with an external ground’s maintenance Contractor, we manage and maintain our grounds in a way that protects and enhances existing habitats.

As a Service, we work towards encouraging biodiversity on our sites where possible, as highlighted in Section 6 Duty, Part one of the Environment (Wales) Act 2016. We do this in the following ways:

In line with the Environment (Wales) Act 2016, we have developed a 3-year Biodiversity Action Plan 2020-2023, to outline objectives to encourage and enhance biodiversity onto Service sites.

The five main objectives outlined within the Plan are as follows:

  • To establish a culture of awareness and conservation throughout the Service of Species and habitats on our sites and the Biodiversity Action Plan.
  • To ensure structured management and regular monitoring and reporting on the Biodiversity Action Plan.
  • To work with local wildlife Groups, Local Biodiversity and Conservation Groups to encourage species to site and conserve and enhance special areas of interest.
  • Identify and map habitats and species of importance located on Service sites.
  • To ensure that Fire Service Grounds are management to encourage and enhance biodiversity to site.

A Biodiversity Action Plan Working Group was set up to assist in achieving the objectives and this will also be a standing Agenda item on the Sustainability and Environment Group meetings.

Encourage, enhance and protect

All our sites are managed to encourage, enhance and protect the flora and fauna on that site and adjacent land. As a result, some of the sites now attract an increasing number and diversity of birds and insects.

To encourage an increase in biodiversity, Ground Maintenance on our sites includes:

  • Control of Knotweed
  • Tree Maintenance
  • Grass Cutting
  • Leaf picking
  • Hedge / Shrub pruning
  • Shrub / Flowerbed maintenance

We serve within a number of designated sites. We hold Incident Response Plans for Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Sites which consider the value of the site appropriately and sensitively and review the process on a regular basis.

We have a number of Stations that sit on the borders of designated sites but the Stations which sit directly within one of the designated sites are included in the list below:

MAWWFRS Station

Designated Site

Brecon Fire Station

Brecon Beacons National Park

Caldey Island Fire Station

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Crickhowel Fire Station

Brecon Beacons National Park

Hay on Wye Fire Station

Brecon Beacons National Park

St Davids Fire Station

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Talgarth Fire Station

Brecon Beacons National Park

Tenby Fire Station

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park 

We worked closely with Wales Biodiversity Partnership to implement a biodiversity layer onto the Mobile Data Terminals (MDT) on the fire appliances in Pembrokeshire Command. This highlights 3 specific themes of important or at risk species which helps protect species in certain locations and helps stop the spread of Invasive non-native species (INNS). This layer is being considered to be rolled out to other Commands across the Service. 

Biodiversity Projects and collaborations

Over the past year, despite National lockdown restrictions, there have been a number of opportunities to collaborate on environmental projects to protect or enhance biodiversity on Service sites of within the Command area.

Towards the end of 2020, through the Swansea PSB subgroup an opportunity arose to apply for funding. An application was submitted to create fire breaks on Common land in the Swansea area.

As a result of the Local Places for Nature scheme from Welsh Government, in early 2021, a collaboration between Pembrokeshire Local Nature Partnership (LNP) and the Service was established to install Swift bird boxes onto fire stations within Pembrokeshire Command. Funding was provided to enhance biodiversity in areas where people live and work.

A number of boxes and audio devices were purchased by Pembrokeshire LNP who collaborated with local PSB members to install them on their buildings. The audio device is used to call the birds to the boxes and result in a better up-take of the nests. These boxes will be installed on all Service locations in Pembrokeshire by May 2021, to ensure they are in situ before the birds arrive.

A new plan has been developed to build a sustainable drainage application on one side of Llandrindod station. Plans have been approved and the project work has commenced with the aim to have works completed in January 2022. This includes a rainwater garden with native shrubs and trees.

Following on from the successful implementation of the Biodiversity layer on the Mobile Data Terminals in Pembrokeshire Command, Swansea Council were keen to work with us to implement a similar project in and around Swansea area.

A desktop exercise will form the basis with Reynoldston and Pontarddulais being identified as the two locations for the exercise. At the time of writing this report we have not been contacted by Swansea Council to undertake the exercise.

The village of Presteigne is currently working to become an International Dark Skies Association community. As a result, our fire station was contacted by a local resident to help with their goal and work together to reduce the light emitted from our station on nights where drills are not taking place. Small changes such as installing a PIR detector coupled with an LED light and a small LED Floodlight angled down would reduce light pollution and yet provide safe levels of light to personnel on station.

The Section 6 Duty, not only put a responsibility on encouraging biodiversity to our Service sites but also a responsibility to protect it on the land that we work within as part of a Fire and Rescue Service. In 2020, Fire and Rescue Services across Wales dealt with 2,253 grass fires. Every year, fire is responsible for the destruction of thousands of hectares of countryside, open space and wildlife habitats. Many of these fires are preventable and caused by our own careless behaviour. Operation Dawns Glaw is a multi-agency taskforce of specialists from key agencies across Wales working together to reduce, and where possible, eliminate the impact of grass fires across Wales.

Communication between personnel attending fires is constant and information shared during incidents can result in a change of tactical plan which can substantially reduce the amount of water use and run-off at incidents, protecting the environment following a fire.

All of our fire appliances hold environmental ‘Grab Packs’ for the prevention of environmental pollution which contain absorbent pads, clay sealing putty and drain sealing mats. These are used to contain the pollution at the sources prior to the removal by specialist Contractors.

Specialist Environmental Protection Units

The Service has three specialist Environmental Protection Units based strategically at Newtown, Llanelli and Pembroke Dock Fire Stations. These vehicles are used for the storage and carriage of equipment specifically for the prevention of environmental pollution. This equipment held on the Units help to minimise or mitigate impacts of incidents attended by the Service. The equipment is maintained by Natural Resources Wales. The Environmental Units can also be used for firefighter decontamination purposes, with the facility for containment of contaminated runoff to reduce environmental damage.

Our Environmental Protection Units consist of chemical and oil absorbents utilised to prevent the substance entering water courses and reducing the impact on the environment. There are also various other pieces of equipment utilised to resolve operational incidents where chemicals are involved: vetter leak sealing bags, numatic hazardous dust machine, over-sized drums, drain mats etc.

The main purpose of the unit is to respond to environmental emergencies across our Service area. We also works closely with Natural Resources Wales. This collaboration aims to minimise the hazards to the environment as far as practically possible from both third parties, flooding and fire service activities dealing with incidents and encourages greater liaison, planning and training.

The call out statistics for the Environmental Protection Units in the last financial years are as follows:

 

2019/2020

2020/2021

EPU Call outs

46

36

We work closely with Natural Resources Wales for guidance at incidents with a high risk to the environment. In addition to the joint working at emergency incidents, Natural Resources Wales supplies us with consumable items to use at incidents, and all costs are recovered from the ‘responsible person’ following an incident where the equipment has been used.

At one of our Swansea Fire Stations, we hold a site-sharing agreement with NRW to store air monitoring equipment on one of their vehicles.

Regular meetings are held both nationally and locally to continue the positive work. Natural Resources Wales supports us in our training and exercising, building on the relationships already in place.

Fire prevention is a key aim of the Business and Community Fire Safety Departments. Though direct environmental benefits are impossible to determine accurately, the more fires that can be prevented, the resulting contamination and pollution to the environment will also be prevented. The Service’s dedicated Community Safety and Business Fire Safety teams ensure that our Communities, premises and their environments are better protected from the unwitting fire risks and/or the impacts of arson.

The Service does this by delivering many business and community fire risk minimisation initiatives which provide key messages on the damage that incidents of fire and arson cause to Businesses, the Community at large and the environment.

 

2018/2019

2019/2020

2020/2021

Property / Vehicle / Education Fires (Primary Fires)

1429

1300

1153

Grass Fires / Rubbish Fires (Secondary Fires)

2301

1851

1912

Grassland, woodland and crop fires which were started deliberately have been included within these statistics as these fires would have an immediate and devastating impact on the environment and the biodiversity that may be nesting there.  

  


Measuring and Monitoring: Environmental data

Find out more on our Measuring and Monitoring: Environmental Data page.