As the Bank Holiday weekend approaches, Calderdale Council is issuing a reminder to residents and landowners about the potential dangers of wildfires on local moorlands and the crucial steps to prevent them.

The occurrence of large and preventable moorland fires puts a significant strain on resources. In a collaborative effort, Calderdale Council is working alongside West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service and West Yorkshire Police to enforce Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) in rural areas, aimed at preventing fires. These orders strictly prohibit activities such as lighting fires, barbecuing, releasing sky lanterns, driving motorised vehicles, including motorbikes and quad bikes, and any other actions that could pose a fire risk. Non-compliance with these orders is considered a criminal offence.

The recent spell of warm and dry weather has heightened the risk of fires. In anticipation of the Bank Holiday weekend, Calderdale’s Community Safety Wardens, in conjunction with their partners, will be conducting patrols in the upland areas of the borough.

Their objective is to raise awareness among local communities and landowners about the dangers of fires and take necessary enforcement action against individuals who fail to comply with the PSPO. Additionally, updated signage will be displayed, warning people about the risks and providing guidance on what to do if they encounter any issues on the moors.

To enhance awareness regarding the proper disposal of litter, particularly barbecue items that can be hazardous regardless of their location, visits to local supermarkets will also be organised.

Councillor Jane Scullion, the Leader of Calderdale Council, emphasised the importance of responsible enjoyment of the countryside and the preservation of the distinctive environment, wildlife, and habitats that are susceptible to the destruction caused by preventable fires. Cllr Scullion urged individuals to adhere to the Countryside Code, pay attention to signage, and familiarise themselves with the PSPO, which prohibits activities posing fire risks such as lighting fires, barbecues, and sky lanterns. She further highlighted ongoing efforts to raise awareness among the public about the significance of proper waste disposal by visiting local stores.

Laura Boocock, Calderdale District Commander at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, acknowledged the allure of Calderdale’s scenic moorlands during warmer weather and the subsequent increase in incidents in these areas. Boocock cited the recent efforts to combat a fire on Marsden Moor, involving firefighting crews from across the county working tirelessly to bring the blaze under control. This incident serves as a poignant reminder of the impact moorland fires can have on the environment and the extensive resources required to respond effectively.

Boocock reiterated the commitment of the fire service to actively engage with the public over the next few months, conducting visits to local moorlands, nature reserves, and areas of natural beauty. The objective is to educate individuals on the importance of fire safety, emphasising the avoidance of preventable and careless fires that have devastating consequences for the environment and wildlife.

Collaboration with partner agencies to monitor and address potential incidents across moorland areas is also underway. Boocock urged people heading out to follow fire bans and restrictions, exercise vigilance, and be aware of the significant impact moorland fires can have on the environment, and safety of humans, animals, and property.

To ensure safety and preserve the countryside, residents and visitors are advised to observe the following essential measures when visiting rural and moorland areas:

  1. Clean up and take all rubbish home after picnics.
  2. Comply with all signs and notices, as they are in place for a reason.
  3. Abide by the Countryside Code and be mindful of signs at National Trust and Yorkshire Water properties.
  4. Refrain from leaving glass bottles, as they can cause harm to individuals and animals, and their magnifying effect can start fires.
  5. Report any suspicious activity immediately to the Police or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
  6. Share any information that could assist the Council in preventing moorland fires by contacting community-safety@calderdale.gov.uk.
  7. Never dispose of lit cigarette ends on the ground or from vehicles or trains. Ensure they are completely extinguished and disposed of responsibly.
  8. Refrain from lighting fires in the countryside and only use designated barbecue areas.
  9. If a fire is spotted:
    • Immediately contact the Fire Service by dialing 999. Do not assume the fire has already been reported.
    • Avoid attempting to tackle fires that cannot be extinguished with a bucket of water.
    • Provide precise location details, such as a map reference, “what three words,” or prominent landmarks like farms or pubs, to aid firefighters in locating the fire.
    • Estimate the size of the burning area.
    • Describe the type of terrain, such as grass, bracken, forest, or open moorland.
    • Leave the area promptly.

Calderdale Council and its partners urge the public to exercise caution, prioritise fire safety, and play an active role in reducing the risk of wildfires. By following these guidelines, individuals can help protect the environment, wildlife, and the overall safety of their communities.

For more information on how to reduce wildfire risk and support firefighters and your community, visit https://www.westyorksfire.gov.uk/safety/be-moor-aware-wildfire-safety.