The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has issued a Condition Orange warning signifying high fire risk until June 6. This announcement is due to the current weather patterns which see a high fire risk in all areas where hazardous fuels such as dead grasses and shrub fuels such as heather and gorse exist. Last week, DAFM issued a Condition Orange high-fire-risk warning which expired on Monday, May 29 at 6:00p.m. This new risk condition will expire at 6:00p.m on June 6, unless otherwise stated. DAFM warned that westerly high-pressure-dominated weather will induce settled weather and higher temperatures across Ireland in the coming days.
DAFM also issued advice to forest owners and managers amid the new fire-risk warning, highlighting that they are all advised to prepare for likely outbreaks of fire. The department recommended that fire lines, fire plans, fire suppression equipment should be reviewed and made ready and other relevant contingencies such as insurance, helicopter contracts etc., checked and confirmed. Forest owners, farmers, rural dwellers and other countryside users should be extremely vigilant regarding fire activity. For forest owners and managers, DAFM recommends putting fire mitigation measures in place to help prevent loss or damage to forest resources through fire.
DAFM’s recommended measures include assessing a property’s fire risk and mitigation factors, being adequately prepared for fire, vigilance and obeying the law. It is an offence to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated between March 1 and August 31 in any year. The immediate reporting of fires is crucial, and losses should be reported to the local Gardai station and to DAFM’s Johnstown Castle Estate in Co. Wexford.
The department also issued advice to members of the public and visitors to recreational areas to cooperate with all its requests regarding fire safety. This includes obeying all relevant bye-laws and being considerate in parking vehicles so as not to impede access by emergency vehicles. Where fire outbreaks occur at or near recreational areas, DAFM said the following actions should be taken: Do not light fires in and around forests or open land, do not attempt to intervene or fight fires under any circumstances, gather all family/group members and move to a safe fuel-free location such as a car park, upwind of the fire, telephone Fire and Rescue Services via 112 and report the fire and its location, evacuate if instructed to do so, and cooperate with all Emergency Service Instruction.
The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) has also urged the public to be mindful of the risks of starting wildfires, particularly during the summer months. The IWT has called on the government to increase penalties for those who start fires and to provide more resources to tackle wildfires. The IWT has also recommended that the public report any suspicious activity to the authorities.
The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) has highlighted that wildfires are a serious threat to public safety and that the public should take all necessary precautions to prevent them. IFESA has called on the government to provide more resources to tackle wildfires and to increase penalties for those who start fires.
In conclusion, DAFM has issued a Condition Orange high-fire-risk warning until June 6 due to the current weather conditions. Forest owners, farmers, rural dwellers and other countryside users should be extremely vigilant regarding fire activity. Members of the public and visitors to recreational areas should cooperate with all requests regarding fire safety. The IWT and IFESA have both called on the government to increase penalties for those who start fires and to provide more resources to tackle wildfires. It is everyone’s responsibility to prevent wildfires and to report any suspicious activity to the authorities.