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Risk of fire spread at highest level

Please think twice about your weekend activities!
Don't risk it - don't light it!

As the country enters into another period of extreme heat, the Met Office has issued a Level 5 Exceptional Fire Severity Warning for parts of Buckinghamshire this weekend (13/14 August 2022).

The Fire Severity Index (FSI) does not indicate the risk of a fire occurring, but the likely severity of any fire which does occur in an area at that time. It is based upon wind speed, temperature, time of year and rainfall. It has 5 levels:

  • FSI level 1 = low fire severity
  • FSI level 2 = moderate fire severity
  • FSI level 3 = high fire severity
  • FSI level 4 = very high fire severity
  • FSI level 5 = exceptional fire severity

Already this month, Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) has attended multiple field fires, including those at Foscott, Marlow Bottom (pictured), Mursley, Penn and Lane End.

Field fire on 8 August at Marlow Bottom (photo credit Graham Anderson)

Community Safety and Safeguarding Manager, Jo Cook, said:

“Field fires have the potential to spread quickly and, because of their remote locations, can be physically demanding on firefighters who use beaters to help put them out.

“While it may seem like only grassland has been destroyed the harsh reality is that it often involves standing crops, the culmination of months of hard work for farmers. As well as the physical loss this also has a financial implication for the landowner and can impact on subsequent crop yields.”

With an exceptional fire severity warning in place, the risk of these fires spreading is at its highest level.

Jo added: “Some of these fires start accidentally as the moving parts on farm machinery get hot and ignite dust which has accumulated during the harvesting process. Sadly, however, human behavior has also played a part in a large number of the field fires and fires in the open that we have attended.”

In advance of this latest Met Office warning about fire severity, we are once again appealing to people to think twice about any activities they are planning to enjoy this weekend.

Do you really need to:

  • Use a wood burner?
  • Light solid fuel barbecues at home, in parks or in the countryside?
  • Celebrate with fireworks, sky lanterns or sparklers?
  • Burn outdoor candles or oil lamps (celebration, insect repellent or commemorative)?

Adam Moore, BFRS Duty Officer for this weekend, said:

“Summer is a great time to have a wedding or gather for an open-air evening celebration, and we don’t want to spoil anyone’s enjoyment.

“However the tinder dry conditions result in the strong risk that any stray spark could spread much faster and further than you could ever anticipate. If you were planning to celebrate using fire related items – please reconsider! They may look pretty but the effects of an accidental fire will dampen the party spirit.”

This message also applies to people who are clearing waste with bonfires.

“Despite requests made nationally and our local requests for people not to light them, BFRS is still attending incidents where deliberately lit bonfires have spread to the surrounding vegetation putting firefighters, people, property, wildlife, livestock and the countryside at risk. So please think twice about your weekend activities and don’t risk it – don’t light it!”


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