Hounslow issues urgent call for vigilance over grass fires

Hounslow Council, police and firefighters have called for a borough-wide effort from all communities and landowners to prevent further grass fires.

Published: Friday, 12th August 2022

photo of the scene of the fire at Hanworth Park
Fire Alarm: Cabinet Member for Parking, Parks and Leisure, Cllr Salman Shaheen surveys the damage at Hanworth Park with Jim Buchan from GreenSpace 360.

Over the past week, fires have raged in the boroughs parks and other open spaces due to the continued hot, dry weather. As well as damaging parks and property, many animals have died.

In one incident in Feltham on Sunday, up to 60 homes had to be evacuated as the flames came perilously close to properties.

Many of the fires are thought to have been the result of irresponsible behaviour such as having barbecues, dropping litter like glass bottles or discarding cigarettes in grass.

With the hot weather expected to continue into the weekend and conditions in the boroughs parks remaining tinder-dry, the Council and partners are stepping up their patrols, as well as continuing to identify at risk locations and putting in place preventative measures such as cutting back and removing grass and vegetation and extending fire breaks.

Our message to our communities and landowners is please do all you can to prevent fires and for useful tips please refer to the London Fire Brigade safety guidance to property owners and managers.

Hounslow Councils Cabinet Member for Parking, Parks and Leisure, Cllr Salman Shaheen, said:

We know that residents in our borough will be extremely concerned about this spate of fires. They pose a significant risk to safety and property and put animals and valuable wildlife habitats at risk.

It is thanks to the courageous efforts of our colleagues within the London Fire Brigade that the damage caused so far has not been worse.

We have taken swift and decisive action to prevent the spread of these fires in our borough and our efforts continue. Our parks teams have mounted extra patrols throughout the day and into the evening to help identify risks and prevent further outbreaks.”

Action by the Council has included:

  • Doubling the size of fire breaks in high-risk areas. 
  • Cutting back dry grass and vegetation. 
  • Erecting warning signs in parks and open spaces across the borough. 
  • Increased patrols by Hounslows Park Rangers and other teams.
  • And we already have a ban on BBQ’s and Open Fires in place

The Council has written to commercial leaseholders who manage open spaces around the borough urging them to take the same preventative action.

Cllr Shaheen added: 

We are doing all we can. However, we need everyones help in ensuring that we do not continue to suffer such fires.

Behaviour that could lead to the outbreak of a fire, whether deliberate or accidental, is not only unacceptable, it is putting lives at risk. We know that our parks and spaces are much-loved by residents and visitors alike, so we urge everyone to stick to the rules and remain vigilant.

“If you see smoke or signs of fire in one of our parks, please raise the alarm straight away.”

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said:

"Londons Fire Commissioner Andy Roe has already written to local authorities asking for a temporary ban on the use of barbecues in all public parks and open spaces. We're very grateful to councils who have put bans in place, but we now want to work with retailers to stop the sale of these dangerous items and reduce the risk of devastating grass fires.

We dont want to spoil peoples fun – but we need action for the sake of our green spaces and due to the dangers disposable barbecues pose generally.”

Be responsible, be safe:

  • Do not light barbecues or fires in the parks and open spaces. 
  • Dispose of cigarette ends and other smoking material in a responsible manner. 
  • Take your litter home with you - glass items can magnify the sun’s rays and ignite dry grass.
  • If you spot a fire, quickly leave the area, tell others to do so and call 999.
  • If you see anything else of urgent concern call 999. 
  • To report any non-urgent concerns email parks@hounslow.gov.uk

Anyone convicted of deliberately starting fires could face fines, community orders and in the most serious cases, prison sentences.

rating button