Wildfire Protection in Sefton

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A group has been set up by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service for the first time to help protect Sefton’s Coast against the risk of wildfire.

The Service has launched the Sefton Coast Wildfire Group, the aim of which is to provide a partnership approach to managing the wildfire risk along the coastline.

One of the first priorities of the group is to produce a Fire Plan to assist operational crews when attending incidents.

In the event of a fire, the fire plan would provide firefighters with valuable information about the sites along the coast, such as access routes, water supplies, types of vegetation and risks to wildlife, as the area contains important sites for nature and wildlife.

The group will also seek to increase public awareness of the dangers of wildfire and potential risk to the woodland, grassland and some properties between Southport and Crosby.

The partners of the group include MF&RS, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, The Mersey Forest, Natural England, Sefton Council, National Trust, Altcar Training Camp, Formby Golf Club, Royal Birkdale Golf Club and Shorrocks Hill.

Landowners will be given advice on fire prevention and they will also be given special wildland firefighting training by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service.

The group was founded as a result of a national drive by the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) Wildfire Group to raise awareness of UK wildfire issues. Wildfires generally start as a result of controlled burning, arson or careless use of barbecues or disposal of smoking materials including cigarettes.

In 2006 more than 100 appliances were required to tackle a wildfire at Formby Pinewoods, which burned for more than a week. In May last year Berkshire firefighters spent three weeks fighting a wildfire at Swinley Forest, which destroyed thousands of trees, threatened local properties and had a huge effect on many Fire and Rescue Services in the area.

Brian Massie, MF&RS Watch Manager in Operational Planning and Policy, said: “Fortunately wildfire on Merseyside is not a common event, however MF&RS attend a large number of fires in open areas during dry spells in spring and summer, which can have a significant impact on resilience.

“By communicating local risks to landowners and the public, the group aims to reduce this type of incident.

“If a fire did occur The Sefton Coast Fire Plan would greatly assist MF&RS operational crews, as they would have the up to date information about land compartments and would be able to determine the most efficient way of tackling a fire.”

Chris Gibbard, Assistant Community Forester at The Mersey Forest, said: “We want to avoid incidents similar in scale to the one we had in 2006 and the creation of an effective fire plan should mean the risk of these types of wildfires is significantly reduced.

“The forum the group now provides will mean that vital up-to-date site information and wildfire training opportunities can be shared.”

Photo above shows Brian Massie, MF&RS Watch Manager, with the other members of Sefton Coast Wildfire Group at Formby

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