Monday, 16 July 2018

Lorber challenges council on potential grassland fires in Brent as Fire Brigade issues urgent warning

Former councillor Paul Lorber has called on Brent Council to make a risk assessment of potential grassland fires in Brent as a result of the Council's 'no mowing' policy in areas of the borough's parks.

His call follows fires near Heathrow Airport and on Wanstead flats LINK and a warning from the London Fire Brigade:

 Lorber said:
I really hope that the Council is ready to prevent this kind of situation arising in Brent. If not the grass cutting and removal of tall grass from Parks and Open Spaces Policy needs to be urgently reviewed and changed.

Councillors and the public needs to be advised on the risks being created and how the Council will respond and take action to protect local people.
The London Fire Brigade's statement issued this morning said:
The London Fire Brigade has today issued an urgent safety warning following the largest grass fire in its history and a series of other grass fires across the capital. Firefighters are concerned that there will be further incidents if the public doesn’t take greater care during the heatwave.

London Fire Commissioner, Dany Cotton, said:
This weekend we dealt with the largest grass fire in our history, as well as a range of other serious fires on grassland. The ground is extremely dry at the moment and grassland and parks will act like a tinderbox when exposed to even the smallest of sparks.

I never thought I’d say this but we are praying for rain.

We are calling on the public to take steps to prevent grass fires: don’t drop cigarettes or matches on dry ground or out of car windows; don’t have barbecues on dry grass or parks and don’t leave glass bottles out as they can concentrate the sun’s rays and start a blaze.

Grass fires spread like lightening so if you see dry grass smouldering, please call 999 and report it immediately so that firefighters can deal with it and stop it from spreading.
The Wanstead blaze, which was so extensive it can be defined as a wildfire, broke out on grassland at 16:05 on Sunday (15 July) at Wanstead Flats, close to Epping Forest in east London. At the height of the fire, over 100 hectares of grass was alight, which is roughly the same size as 100 football pitches.

Over 220 firefighters from fire stations across London attended, with over 40 fire engines at the scene at the height of the incident. Fifteen fire engines and around 100 firefighters remain at the scene today (Monday 16 July) to saturate the area and ensure the fire is under control. Fires on peatland can present a challenge as the fire can travel below ground. Crews are expected to be on scene for a number of hours.

Grass fires this weekend
  • Fifteen fire engines and 100 firefighters attended a large grass fire in Feltham on Saturday afternoon
  • Fifteen fire engines attended a grass fire in Ockendon in Essex on Sunday, London Fire Brigade sent three engines to assist Essex crews
  • Four fire engines attended a grass fire in Woodford Green on Sunday afternoon
  • Five engines attended a grass fire in Richmond last night


Anonymous said...

There was a grass fire at Little Marlow a couple of weeks ago in addition to those stated.
There are glass bottles plus pieces of broken glass in the rubbish that has been dumped in the now overgrown grass and with the excessive heat they are likely to cause the dry grass to ignite. Surely the most sensible action would be for Brent Council to get the grass cut. Cost is nothing compared to safety.

claremounties said...

There is another serious H&S issue with the 'Medows policy'. Where there are trees and bushes, previously these areas have been cleared of any undergrowth, I believe in order to remove potential cover and to deter unsavoury activities, particularly close to children's play areas.

North Brent Parks Forum said...

John Billam, Tenterden Group JBT Group. Found black scorched areas of the field. A full fire did not take hold: why ? Because Veolia contractors were tasked with cutting the parched grass and removing some of it from the fields. Otherwise we would have a possible evacuation issue for three residents' blocks (150-200) people. So for us it's thank you to Parks for being able to carry out this work. They need more funding. We just had a London Friends of Parks Groups' Steering Committee meeting at City hall last night and this is an issue for all London open spaces. All 600 member groups are very concerned. Please start Friends Groups and join the Movement.
TWEET: @LDNgreenspaces

Jaine Lunn said...

As there is no signage in our Park stating the by-laws i.e no BBQ's and no Park Wardens to enforce them, it's only a matter of time if the hot weather persists. I witnessed 2 BBQs shooting flames in King Eddies over the weekend.

Scott said...

Great point Lorber.

claremounties said...

More grass fires in London Parks in the last week. Another potentially serious issue when walking through the long grass, is the risk of tick-borne diseases. The tick population is said to have exploded in recent years. So will Brent be responsible?