Prolonged spring drought conditions can facilitate wildfires which can threaten rural communities and devastate upland habitats. Most wildfires in ireland are a result of human activities and are therefore avoidable.
Know the risks
be aware of the risk of fire during spring and summer drought periods.
fire risk is typically greater in spring than summer.
types of land most prone to wildfires in ireland include peatlands, turf cutting bogs, upland areas and immature forest lands adjacent to these.
in extreme drought conditions, vegetation fires can take place in dried grasses and other crops across a range of farmland types, even in lowland areas.
active farming, appropriate livestock grazing and other fuel reduction measures can reduce the risk of fire effectively.
fire danger notices are issued to advise land managers of prevailing fire risk conditions between march and september and to allow preparedness measures to be taken in time.
Protect your home
ensure that hazardous flammable vegetation such as gorse, bracken and grasses are maintained at low levels to reduce fire risk.
a minimum of 30m of fuel-free space should be maintained to protect structures.
keep access routes clear. Identify water sources, hydrants and open water sources and keep these free from obstructions.
assist older or vulnerable neighbours to manage risks and maintain vegetation at a safe level around their properties.
report any suspicious activity to an garda siochana, and uncontrolled or unattended fires immediately to the emergency services via 112 or 999.
do not light fires in or near forests, recreational areas or other amenities.
park responsibly, do not block emergency access routes.
obey all signage and instructions from landowners and authorised officers.
Be firewise on the farm
Many spring wildfires arise from poorly conducted attempts at controlled burning in the uplands. In extreme drought conditions, unintentional fires can also affect lowland farming activities and potentially impact on surrounding communities:
obey the law: unless otherwise directed by the minister under Section 7(1) of the heritage act, 2016, it is an offence to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated between 1st day of march and 31st day of august in any year as per requirements of the wildlife (amendment) act, 2000.
landowners found burning illegally could face fines, imprisonment and single farm payment penalties.
landowners wishing to carry out prescribed burning during the legal period must notify in writing all forest owners within one mile and the fire service and local garda station in advance of the burning operation.
consider smoke impacts on adjacent communities. If in doubt, don’t burn.
plan for the likelihood of fire and prepare escape routes and assembly points for workers operating equipment in the event of fire. Keep water tankers to hand throughout harvesting operations during drought conditions.
Further information on restrictions on cutting hedgerows and burning is available here.
Barbecue safety advice
Outdoor activities are often a great way to spend your leisure time but they have their own set of unique fire risks that should not be underestimated.
A barbecue should be a safe and enjoyable experience but it’s all too easy to be distracted when you have friends and family around you whilst cooking. To avoid injuries, or damage to property, follow these simple precautions:
never bbq on a balcony.
make sure your barbecue is in good working order.
ensure the barbecue is on a flat site, well away from the house/apartment, trees or shrubs.
keep children, garden games and pets well away from the cooking area.
never leave the barbecue unattended.
keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies.
never barbecue in parks, wildland areas or any site in close proximity to vegetation, trees etc.
ensure the barbecue is cool before attempting to move.
Forest owners and managers should consider the fire mitigation measures that they can put in place to help prevent loss or damage to forest resources and habitats through fire:
risk assessment: assess your property with regard to fire risk and mitigation factors.
prepare: fire plans should be developed for all forests.
be vigilant: forest owners should be particularly vigilant following prolonged dry spells. See here
for current forest fire risk condition rating.
cooperate: cooperation between neighbouring landowners is critical to successful fire prevention. Forest owners should cooperate with neighbours in relation to fire planning and share the burden of fire patrols and vigilance.
report fires immediately: if you see a fire, do not delay; report it to the fire and emergency services straight away via 112 or 999. Do not wait for somebody else to make the call.
Report all losses. If your forest is damaged or destroyed, report this loss as soon as possible to the gardai and the department of agriculture.
Further information on fire management and wildfire protection is available here.
During fire-fighting operations do not fly drones in the vicinity of fires or firefighting operations, as doing so could pose severe safety risks to aerial operations, flight crews and individuals on the ground. Drones flying in the vicinity of aircraft present a serious hazard and can hamper firefighting efforts
If you are hill walking in the countryside please watch out for the special signs indicating Military Range Lands. Do not walk onto these Ranges as you could be in GREAT DANGER at all times from unexploded shells and other dangerous ammunition.
RED FLAGS indicate LIVE FIRING.
If you are visiting the Glen of Imaal, Co Wicklow, for further information, including free maps of the area, please contact: