IFA Farm Forestry Chairman Vincent Nally is warning farmers to be vigilant over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend after a Condition Orange – High Fire Risk has issued. The warning is to remain in place until next Tuesday in all areas, unless there is significant rainfall.
He cautioned farmers to be extra vigilant. Some farmers had already suffered financial losses. After such a spell of dry weather, a wildfire risk can quickly develop in areas where flammable vegetation such as grasses, gorse, and heather are present.
Vincent Nally said recreational users who are within 2km of a forest will be out this weekend. Sometimes a fire can be started inadvertently.
“Most fires spread from adjoining land into the forest. It’s important that farmers assess the risk to their forest and make sure that their firebreaks are maintained. A firebreak should consist of a six-metre-wide fuel free zone, typically around the boundary of the forest,” he said.
He encouraged farmers to review their fire plan for their forest, or to prepare a fire plan, especially if your forest is located in a high-risk area.
He said the plan should identify and map the risks and the likely outcomes if there was a fire, assembly points, access and escape routes, reservoirs or water points and firebreaks. The plan should also contain the number for the local fire station, local Garda station, Registered Forester etc.
“Forest fires have caused significant financial losses for farmers in recent years, with years of growth and timber production lost in a single incident. It’s so important that farmers consider the financial consequences of a fire and make sure there they have adequate insurance cover as under the Afforestation scheme farmers are obligated to replant when a forest is damaged by fire.”
He said that if you see a fire, do not delay, report it to the Fire and Emergency Services by calling 999 or 112. He stressed that you will not be billed by the Fire Service or Local Authority for making the call.