As the nation prepares for the upcoming Spring Bank Holiday weekend and school half-term holidays, Bradford Council is issuing a vital reminder to the public to play their part in preventing wildfires and staying safe around open water, as the prolonged period of warm and dry weather shows no signs of abating.
The Met Office’s Fire Severity Index (FSI) indicates a rising risk of wildfires, with the rating set to reach ‘High.’ The Natural Hazards Partnership has also elevated its alert level to “amber,” signalling an increasing likelihood and potential consequences of wildfire outbreaks.
Sadly, the region has already witnessed several significant wildfires this year, with the most recent occurrence taking place on Marsden Moor near Huddersfield earlier this week.
Adding to the concern, an incident involving a smouldering disposable barbecue and discarded rubbish on moorland within the Bradford district was reported. Bradford Council takes this opportunity to reiterate that barbecues and any form of open fire are strictly prohibited on the moors. This ban is reinforced by a Public Space Protection Order, and individuals caught violating it may face fines of up to £2,500 and/or imprisonment.
With a view to increased vigilance, the Council urges residents and visitors alike to remain alert. Anyone who witnesses a fire or observes someone using a barbecue on the moorland is urged to immediately dial 999 and request the fire service’s assistance.
As temperatures rise, people are naturally drawn to open water bodies, including rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, seeking relief from the heat. However, it is crucial to recognise the extreme dangers associated with these actions. Water temperatures below 15ºC are classified as cold water and can have severe effects on breathing and movement, potentially leading to cold water shock and drowning.
Moreover, hidden hazards lurk beneath the water’s surface, such as submerged strainers that allow water to pass through but could trap individuals, as well as tree branches, debris, and even vehicles that may have been swept downstream—all of which pose significant risks.
Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning, and Transport, emphasised the value of moorlands as precious resources and the devastating impact of wildfires, which can persist for extended periods. While urging people to enjoy these areas responsibly and with respect, he appealed to the public to comply with the ban on barbecues and fires.
Councillor Ross-Shaw further commented, “During warmer weather, people may be tempted to take risks around water, and we have tragically witnessed lives lost due to this. We urge individuals to resist the temptation to cool off in open water and to have conversations with young people about the associated dangers.”
District Commander Chris Kovacs from the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service echoed the Council’s message, emphasising the rapid spread of fires on moorland and their immediate threat to people, nearby wildlife, and potentially neighbouring properties. He stressed the importance of proactive measures, stating, “We would much rather address an illegal barbecue in progress than a wildfire. Therefore, if anyone notices a fire or sees someone using a barbecue on moorland, please dial 999 and request Fire and Rescue assistance.”
In addition to highlighting the need for caution around water bodies, the Council is encouraging the public to remember the “Call, Tell, Throw” principle in case of witnessing someone in distress. Individuals should immediately call 999 and ask for Fire and Rescue, instruct the person to float on their back, and throw them a floating object to aid buoyancy.
For further details about the #BeMoorAware campaign and wildfire safety, please visit: www.westyorksfire.gov.uk/safety