IFA Farm Forestry Chairman, Pat Collins has warned farmers to be vigilant over Easter after the Forest Service issued a Condition Orange – High Fire Risk. The warning is to remain in place until 18th April 2017 in all areas, unless there is significant rainfall.
Mr. Collins cautioned farmers to be extra vigilant, saying some farmers had already suffered financial losses this season. He said that 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.
Most fires spread from adjoining land into the forest. It is important that farmers assess the risk to their forest and make sure that the firebreaks are maintained. A firebreak should consist of a 6 metre wide fuel free zone, typically around the boundary of the forest.
He encouraged farmers to review the fire plan for their forest, or to prepare a fire plan, especially if the 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 contact details for the local fire station, local Garda station, Registered Forester etc.
“Forest fires have caused devastation as well as significant financial loss for a lot of farmers in recent years. Under the Afforestation scheme farmers are obligated to replant where a forest is damaged by fire, so it is important that farmers consider the financial consequences of a fire and make sure there is adequate insurance cover in place,” the Farm Forestry Chairman said.
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.