Angus firefighters have called on the public to back a campaign to cut down on the risk of wildfires in the countryside.
With the peak period for incidents approaching, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is raising awareness to tackle the problem across the area.
Last year firefighters were called to deal with hundreds of wildfire/grassfire incidents across Scotland and the demand on SFRS resources was significant. The service is keen to work with land managers, tourists and communities to help cut the number fires in a bid to protect the countryside and its residents.
Craig Thomson, group manager for Angus, said: “Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to join ‘Scotland’s Fight Against Fire’ and we are asking communities, tourists and visitors to be aware of the heightened risk of wildfire at this time of year.
“We want people to act responsibly in a countryside environment, such as properly disposing of smoking materials, to prevent these fires happening in the first place.”
Mr Thomson added that local land managers are being asked to ensure that they do not carry out burning outwith the pemitted season and to ensure that suitable fire plans are in place during their land management operations.
He said: “When wildfires occur they impact greatly on rural areas and can cause substantial environmental and economic damage.
“Wildfires also pose a threat to communities and by raising awareness we are aiming to reduce the risk.”
There is a number of things land managers can do to help prevent wildfires, including adhering strictly to the Muirburn Code which applies to the controlled burning of heather within the permitted season.
The fire service has historically worked with land managers to provide advice around their fire plans in an attempt to reduce the number of wildfires and Mr Thomson said that work is set to continue.
He added: “The assistance of local land owners and managers, as well as members of the public, was very much appreciated last year. In particular I would like to thank local employers who released our retained and community response crew members to deal with these incidents.
“Their continued support is key to maintaining the safety of our local communities.”
Many wildland fires are started deliberately or are due to careless, reckless or irresponsible behaviour. Members of the public are asked, if they see someone acting suspiciously, recklessly or irresponsibly in the countryside, to contact Police Scotland on 101 or pass information anonymously to Scotland Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Garry Burnett, Scottish Wildfire Project manager, said: “I am very much focused on delivering a preventative agenda within the wildfire environment. The reduction in wildfire incidents will not only benefit public safety but will reduce significant demand on our firefighting personnel.
“As the first Scottish Wildfire Project manager, I am determined to reduce this type of incident utilising strong external and internal partner relationships and relying on those collaborations to reduce risk.”
Further information is available on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service website www.firescotland.gov.uk which also has a link to the Muirburn Code. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code which can be found at http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/outdoors-responsibly/access-code-and-advice/soac/