A major incident has been declared by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service following a surge in fires across the county due to the heatwave.
The service has been called to 63 incidents so far today, with 38 of these being fires in the open, including large blazes at a field in Campsea Ashe and a park in Ipswich.
Although Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has worked tirelessly to put the resource in place to quickly respond to incidents, it has also provided assistance to colleagues over the border, including in Cambridgeshire, Essex and Norfolk, meaning that the service is under immense pressure.
Demand is expected to continue for some time, as the extreme temperatures and dry weather remain in place well until the evening, providing the perfect conditions for wildfires to spread.
Suffolk residents are being urged to play their part by reducing fire risk. Barbecues in public open spaces should be avoided and those who are out and about should dispose of their litter, glass bottles and cigarettes properly. Farmers are also asked to store hay and straw away from other buildings, especially those housing livestock or containing fuels and chemicals.
Jon Lacey, Chief Fire Officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, commented:
“We have seen an unprecedented number of fires as a result of the hot weather in Suffolk, which has caused grassland to burn quickly.
“Our forward planning has allowed us to respond efficiently and effectively to these incidents and I would like to thank all Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service colleagues for working tirelessly to make sure that we can continue to protect our county’s communities, as well as the employers of our on-call firefighters who have greatly helped our efforts by releasing their staff to help us.
“Unfortunately, as with many other fire services across the country, we have been left with no option but to declare a major incident in recognition of the immense pressure that our service is under. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t still here to look after Suffolk, but I would ask that people be mindful and avoid any activity that could potentially start a fire to help reduce any further demand on our firefighters.
Cllr Andrew Reid, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Public Protection, said:
“Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has declared a major incident for the first time in years, demonstrating the severity of the surge in incidents because of the heatwave.
“This is not a reflection on our fire staff, who continue to tackle fires even in the most extreme of temperatures, but is consistent with the national picture, with other services, including London, all being in a similar situation.
“Now is the time for our county’s residents to do all they can to assist – whether it be waiting until another night to have their barbecue or picking up any litter that they see discarded in our parks and forests that could start a fire. I’d also ask that people avoid swimming in the open this evening to reduce the likelihood of our crews needing to attend water rescues.”