As we welcome in the better weather, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is asking you to help us reduce your risk of fire by taking some very simple steps.
Whether you’re off camping in the countryside, barbecuing with friends or enjoying a picnic with the family, human behaviour can dramatically reduce your risk of fire.
We’ve put together some useful information about deliberate fires, how to remain safe from fire when enjoying the countryside, and advice on how you can leave your home ‘fire safe’ if you plan to leave it for an extended period of time.
For further safety information, download our leaflets
During the summer, we often see a rise in the number of deliberate fires across Scotland. These include refuse and wheelie bin fires, fires in stairwells or derelict buildings, as well as grass and countryside fires made worse by hot and dry conditions.
In summer 2021, firefighters were forced to attend more than 3,000 deliberate fires during just a six-week window.
This type of behaviour has a huge impact on our crews and can divert them away from genuine emergencies where lives may be at risk.
If you’re a parent or guardian, you can help reduce the number of deliberately set fires by discussing fire safety with young people.
We all have a responsibility to prevent deliberate fires.
Fires in the open
During summer 2021, fires involving grassland, crops, and woodland more than doubled.
In the space of six weeks, firefighters were forced to respond to more than 1,400 such fires. This was more than double the figure recorded for the same timescale in 2020.
The truth is that most fires in the open are completely avoidable and are started deliberately or through human negligence.
Even the smallest fire in the open can quickly get out of hand.
Warmer weather and the increased numbers of people visiting the countryside creates a greater risk of fire. That is why we are asking you to consider the steps below to keep yourself and others safe before enjoying Scotland's scenic beauty this summer.
- Make sure you extinguish and dispose of any smoking materials properly. Never throw a lit cigar or cigarette away in a rural environment as they have the potential to cause serious fires, or even wildfires, during the drier summer months
- Dispose of glass or bottles in a bin and not out in the open. Glass can be magnified by the sun’s rays and has the potential to cause a wildfire or serious grassland fire
- Before lighting any outdoor fires, check for any restrictions or permissions required by the landowner
- Ensure recreational fires are made in a fire safe pit or container and that they are properly extinguished before you leave
- If a fire occurs in the countryside, no matter how small, call 999 and ask for the fire service straight away. Even small fires have the potential to turn into a wildfire
- Many outdoor fires are started deliberately or are due to careless, reckless or irresponsible behaviour. If you suspect someone of acting irresponsibly, contact Police Scotland on the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Caravan and staycation safety
Many of us will be keen to head into the countryside to enjoy a camping or caravan holiday this summer.
But again, please be aware of the risk of fire when on a short break.
Fire can destroy a tent in 60 seconds or less and also spreads much more quickly in a caravan than it would in a house or flat.
Always ensure your caravan is fitted with a working smoke alarm, and consider installing a heat alarm.
Never cook inside a tent and ensure that any campfire is fully extinguished before going to bed. Never set a fire near your tent or caravan.
Anyone holidaying or going to the countryside for sports or leisure can find some great advice about staying safe by reading the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
We attend fires involving BBQs every year.
Increasingly, we are seeing more and more instances of fires caused by BBQs - and, naturally many of these incidents take place during periods of good weather.
If you are going to have a BBQ, please follow the key advice below.
- Keep a bucket of water, sand or a garden hose nearby for emergencies
- Never leave a barbecue unattended
- Avoid alcohol if you are in charge of a barbecue. It can affect your co-ordination and judgement
- Make sure your barbecue site is flat and well away from sheds, fences, trees, shrubs or garden waste
- Keep children and pets away from the cooking area
Further guidance can be found on our BBQ safety page.
Short term let accommodation
If you’re leaving your home for an extended period of time, remember to ‘switch off before you set off’.
Things like electrical appliances – televisions, hair straighteners, computers – are more likely to cause a fire if they are accidentally left switched on for long periods of time.
So, if you’re about to set off for a short break, we would ask you to switch off electrical appliances and take a moment to consider our fire safety advice before you set off.
And if you are checking into a short term let accommodation, please ensure you know where your nearest fire exit is and have an escape plan in place in the event of an emergency.
As always, also ensure smoke alarms are fitted and are working properly