We have a permanent ban on BBQ’s in all of our parks. Signage is installed at locations where we have seen BBQ’s taking place and we carry out enforcement under our Byelaws relating to Pleasure Grounds, Public Walks and Open Spaces.
This Byelaw has been in place since the mid-seventies so we have not moved to a ban as a result of recent fires.
The number of grass fires in Hounslow’s parks and open spaces have significantly increased this year, with 15 reported fires in a two week period during July, and an estimated 50 fires in total so far.
The larger of these fires have taken place at Hounslow Heath, Hatton Meadows and Crane Valley Park.
The fire at Hounslow Heath, which started around 3pm during an afternoon in mid-July has seen nearly a quarter of the main heather pen burnt, causing a huge danger to the wildlife, but also potentially to dog walkers and visitors using the site. The grass fires spread extremely fast, and fire fighters have had to work tirelessly to keep on top of the spreading flames. Rangers assisted with equipment to try and cut a fire break to stop the fire spreading further, however the flames were moving at such a speed it was not deemed safe to attempt this.
30% of the wild flower meadows was lost during a fire a Crane Park which burnt for several hours before fire fighters could get this under control. The fire at Hatton Meadows caused a huge disturbance when nearby roads had to be closed for fear the flames were spreading too fast. A flock of conservation grazing sheep were moved away before the fire spread, and thankfully they have been relocated to other grazing.
The Rangers have increased patrols to enforce the byelaws regarding BBQ’s and have been urging public to be vigilant whilst out in the parks. Additional fire breaks have been put in to try to deter the flames from spreading should a fire break out.
The longer grass meadows, which provide fantastic habitat to many wildlife species, including nesting areas to ground nesting birds such as the skylark, are most at risk of burning. These areas are of high importance to the boroughs wildlife and the impact of this loss of habitat has been significant.
Residents are reminded to take care not to drop cigarettes or matches on dry grass and to keep a very close eye on home barbecues.
Grass fires can quickly spread and cause serious damage, so if you see grass smouldering, please call 999 immediately.”
Tips on preventing grass fires by London Fire Brigade are as follows:
- Never leave camp fires or barbecues unattended and extinguish them properly after you have finished using them
- Clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to avoid them magnifying the sun and starting a fire
- Dispose of smoking materials such as cigarettes safely
- Explain to children the dangers of playing with and lighting fires