Wildfire Prevention Patrol to tackle risk of wildfires this summer


Release date: 3 July 2023

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is establishing a new Wildfire Prevention Patrol in and around Midhurst in a bid to try and minimise the risk of significant fires taking hold.

The fire service is keen to hear from residents who live in the town or surrounding area, or those who regularly visit Midhurst who enjoy walks in the local countryside, as well as dog walkers and walking groups who might wish to be involved to be the eyes and ears of the fire service out and about in the countryside this summer.

Wildfires pose a significant risk to our countryside, homes and businesses. As we enter the warmer summer months the risk of a significant wildfire taking hold and causing extensive damage rises considerably.

WSFRS is establishing the new patrol group in and around the Midhurst area as a pilot this summer to try and minimise that risk. The service is keen to hear from residents who regularly walk through the surrounding countryside who might be interested in taking part in the new initiative.

Midhurst Watch Manager Matt Gamblen is WSFRS’s wildfires tactical advisor. He said: “When a wildfire takes hold the consequences can be absolutely devastating, both for the biodiversity of the South Downs, but also our homes and businesses. During the longer summer months when rainfall is lower the ground becomes tinder-box dry, and once a fire starts it can become incredibly difficult to bring under control.

“There are some simple steps that everyone can take to minimise the risk of starting a wildfire in the first place, like taking litter home with you, extinguishing cigarettes responsibly, and not starting open fires or BBQs in open spaces after periods of prolonged dry weather.

“But we cannot eradicate those risks all of the time, and that’s where our new Wildfire Prevention Patrol comes in. Those that come forward will be given full training to identify the risks that could lead to a fire breaking out, and ultimately become our eyes and ears out and about in the countryside to give us an early warning when fires take hold.”

WSFRS will be offering a number of training sessions for those interested in becoming part of the Wildfire Prevention Patrol over the next few weeks.

If you would like to find out more or sign up for a training session please contact our Prevention team on frs.cptt@westsussex.gov.uk

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