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Operation Dawns Glaw, a multi-agency taskforce of specialist from key agencies across Wales has reformed to reduce, and where possible eliminate the impact of grass fires across Wales.
The task force, which was initially established in 2016 to tackle the incidents of deliberately set grass fires across Wales, will also be turning its attention to the increase in accidental fires, often caused as a result of our own careless behaviour when out enjoying the countryside.
Every year fire is responsible for the destruction of thousands of hectares of countryside, open space and wildlife habitats. Many of these fires are however preventable and caused by our own carless behaviours.
During 2020, Fire and Rescue Services across Wales dealt with 2,253 grass fires. Whilst this was a slight increase on 2019, the number of accidental fires in 2020 had increased by 20%.
This increase has in part been attributed to the number of us who spent our Spring and Summer months enjoying our local countryside, due to the lockdown measures in place as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
As we enter another year whereby staycations here in Wales are likely to dominate our holidays, the Task Force is keen to make sure that we all do so safely, ensuring we protect the precious countryside, wildlife and habitats we are all so fortune to have on our doorsteps.
If are out enjoying the countryside and you do come across any suspicious activity, please call CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or ring 101. In an emergency, always call 999.
The Task Force is continuing its work with farmers and landowners across Wales, reminding them that while they may burn heather, grass, bracken and gorse up until the 15 March (up to 31 March in Upland areas), they must have a Burn Plan in place to ensure they are burning safely. It is illegal to burn between sunset and sunrise and there must always be sufficient people and equipment on hand to control the burn. Breaking these rules can result in penalties of up to £1000.
You can find out more about The Heather and Grass Burning Code – and download a Burning Management Plan from the Welsh Government website.
If you see a fire which looks like it might be out of control or being burnt illegally, then please call CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or ring 101. In an emergency, always call 999.
While accidents can happen, there are others within our communities who are deliberately setting fire to our countryside. Deliberate fire setting is a crime and the Task Force is appealing for information on anyone deliberately setting fires to call 101, or to report anonymously to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111. Those caught will be prosecuted.
This work is supported by our Arson Reduction team, our problem-solving team, dedicated to reducing and eliminating deliberate fire-setting. The team consists of a seconded Police Officer, a Fire Officer and three specialist arson advisors who ensure that all incidents are investigated and analysed to make our communities safer. The team works closely with its partners to target problematic areas and to consistently develop ways of reducing arson and to identify who or what may be affected. You can find out more about the work of our Arson Reduction Team here.
Firefighters and Community Fire Safety staff from the Service will now visit domestic properties to provide home safety advice and will supply and install a smoke alarm free of charge, where appropriate.
These checks are the cornerstone of the proactive role the Service is adopting in its drive to reduce the deaths and injuries that are caused by accidental fires.
The provision of smoke alarms and other home safety items by Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is supported by funding from Welsh Government.