'Increased fire risk' posed by heatwave, says Suffolk's chief fire officer

Disposable barbecue expelling large flames

Suffolk's chief fire officer has encouraged people to minimise the 'increased fire risk' posed by scorching temperatures this week - Credit: Archant

Suffolk's chief fire officer has encouraged people to minimise the "increased fire risk" posed by scorching temperatures this week, after the Met Office issued an "extreme heat" warning for Suffolk.

Jon Lacey, chief fire officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We want everyone to be able to enjoy the fantastic weather, but to do so safely, so as not to put themselves and our firefighters at risk.

"Suffolk is a rural county with lots of green open spaces that we need to protect from the increased fire risk caused by the heatwave. Please pay your part by avoiding barbecues and campfires on dry grass or near hedges, putting out cigarettes properly before disposing of them and calling 999 immediately if you spot any signs of a fire out in the open."

Suffolk County Council instruct people to take the following precautions when holding barbecues: 

  • Do not use liquids to start a barbecue, as a liquid can splash onto your clothes causing them to ignite
  • Site the barbecue well away from anything flammable, such as sheds, fences and shrubs
  • Never build a fire in fields or forests
  • Position the barbecue on a firm, level base and shelter it from gusts of wind
  • Beware when wearing loose, flowing clothes and tie hair back
  • Do not allow barbecues to burn fiercely enough to burst into flames
  • If you have a gas barbecue, take extra care when changing the gas cylinders
  • Keep at least one bucket of water handy - just in case.

Mr Lacey also emphasised the importance of staying safe while taking a swim to cool down, as around 85% of drownings take place in open water.

He said: "Many people don't realise the danger to life posed by the shock from cold water temperatures, strong currents and uneven banks and riverbeds. I'd urge everyone to follow guidance from the Royal Life Saving Society to help prevent death or serious injury."

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Those who do choose to swim are encouraged to bear in mind the SAFE code: Spot, Advice, Friends, Emergency - spot the dangers, take advice, go with a friend, and learn what to do in an emergency.