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Hot weather brings significant challenge for firefighters

The summer heatwave has seen Cambridgeshire’s firefighters face a significant increase in fires. 

In June and July crews attended 551 fires in the open across the county, an increase of more than 50 per cent on last year. In July alone, crews attended 376 fires in the open in various places around the county.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Rick Hylton said: “The recent hot and dry weather has meant the ground conditions have been allowed fires to spread quickly. Crews have faced fires affecting areas as large as 50 acres. The larger fires can often take significant resources and time to get under control and extinguish. 

“Crews have faced gruelling conditions when tackling these fires. The combination of the hot weather, the heat from the fire and the physically demanding actions needed to beat the fire out is very draining, especially when the incident involves a large area. Our firefighters have all stood up to the challenge at each and every single fire they’ve attended.”

The Service’s Combined Fire Control has also seen a sharp increase in the amount of emergency calls they have received reporting incidents in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. Almost 4,000 calls were answered by emergency call handlers in June and July, an increase of 13 per cent.

Rick added: “Our control staff have an equally challenging job in not only taking the calls from members of the public and sending fire engines to incidents in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, but also communicating with crews via radio to ensure they have all the information they need. They also ensure there are enough fire engines around the county to assist in other emergency situations. For example if there are eight fire engines at a fire, they will contact other crews to provide cover in different areas. This can be very challenging when multiple incidents are happening at the same time.

Rick concluded: “This has been a very challenging couple of months for our staff. Crews have faced tough physical conditions and long hours tackling large field fires, while our emergency call handlers have been inundated with calls from two counties. While it has been tough, our staff have all risen to the challenge admirably, showing their dedication to serving their communities, and I’d like to express my gratitude to everyone.”

With the weather is set to remain warm for the rest of the summer, we want to remind residents to take to help prevent an outdoor fire:

  1. Ensure cigarettes are completely out
  2. Do not throw cigarettes out of car windows onto grass verges or vegetation
  3. Put disposable barbecues on bricks, do not place directly on grass
  4. Do not leave glass bottles lying on the ground, the sun’s rays reflect through the glass and can start a fire
  5. When camping, do not leave campfires unattended and make sure it is completely out before you leave it
  6. Use barbecues on a hard, flat surface, away from grass, shrubs or fencing
  7. Talk to your children about the dangers of starting a fire.