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The Dangers of Wildfires

The Dangers of Wildfires

Wildfires are unplanned or uncontrolled fires in the countryside or open areas in towns and cities. They often spread quickly through plants that are dry and easy to burn such as gorse and heather. Download below the key issues in relation to wildfires.

The Ring of Gullion AONB project worked with Enspire and Tommakesmusic on a wildfire awareness campaign in 2013/14.  The campaign is funded by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Newry and Mourne District Council, to raise awareness of the risks of wildfires in the Ring of Gullion area.

A series of videos were made by the Year 6 school children in St Malachy’s Primary School, Camlough and St Mary’s Primary School, Mullaghbawn through the Ring of Gullion AONB project. They aim to raise the awareness of the dangers of wildfires and reduce the amount of fires.

If you see a wildfire – here are the Do’s and Don’ts
If you see a wildfire call 999 and ask for fire; tell them where the fire is as best you can.
Get away from the scene of the fire as flames can spread quickly.
Help by keeping an eye on the site at a safe distance and report any re-ignition as summer fires in particular can re-flare.

Don’t ever tackle a fire yourself.
Don’t hesitate to dial 999 – you may be the first to report the fire.
Don’t park where you may block fire appliances from attending a fire.

Click below to see the Ring of Gullion wildfire postcard with information, on what to do if you see a wildfire.

To get more information on  gorse wildfires and to play the risk finder game, click here to visit the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Fire Storm website.

If you have any photos or videos of past wildfires in the Ring of Gullion, which you would like to share, please email them to [email protected] or contact the office on 028 30861949.

Project Updates

Cross-border Fire mapping Geolocation Workshop

Update published on: March 23, 2016


Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick, Vice-Chairperson of the Newry, Mourne and Down Council welcomed attendees from across the island of Ireland to the Carrickdale Hotel for a cross-border fire mapping Geolocation workshop. The workshop was hosted by the Ring of Gullion team and funded by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

The objective of the workshop was to start the development of an All-Ireland Wildfire Mapping Standard which will outline the method of mapping wildfires and reporting damage. This will enable a more co-ordinated approach across government departments and NGOs in Ireland. It will also enable more comparison of damage and recovery from wildfire damage.

Vice-Chairperson Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick, of Newry, Mourne and Down Council said “It is great for this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to be hosting this workshop. It is encouraging to see attendees from a range of organsiations across the island working together to develop a common standard for mapping wildfires.

We are grateful to our speakers Julia McMorrow from the University of Manchester, Enda Mullen from Wicklow Mountains National Park and Dr. Jim Bradley from the Belfast Hills Partnership for outlining their experiences of wildfire mapping in the UK and across Ireland.”

Wildfires are man-made accidental fires (such as those caused by cigarettes or litter acting as lenses) or natural fires due to lightning strikes. They also include fires started maliciously, and any managed burns which accidentally get out of control.

Contrary to the belief that wildfires are sparked by hot, dry weather, most of them occur in the spring. Winter frost leaves undergrowth too dry, meaning the fires can start easily and spread quickly, causing widespread damage throughout the countryside.

At times the damage is irreparable. According to fire service figures, between 2012 and 2014, there were 5,002 incidents classed as wildfires across Northern Ireland. 92% of these fires were deemed to have been started deliberately.

Whether started accidentally or deliberately wildfires are extremely dangerous and can spread rapidly. The law states that burning of vegetation such as heather, gorse, whin or fern must not be carried out between 15 April and 31 August and only carried out at other times of the year under controlled and expert supervision i.e. with NIFRS guidance.

To see the agenda for the day, click here.

To see Julia McMorrow’s  presentation, click here.

To see Enda Mullen’s presentation, click here.

To see Dr. Jim Bradley’s presentation, click here.

The notes from the breakout sessions will be added later.

Lottery Funded
NIEA DoE N&M DC Biodiversity

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