Wildfire safety advice

Wildfire safety advice

We want to keep you and our countryside safe from the dangers of wildfires and fires in the open. Wildfires are very dangerous, spreading fast, changing direction, and threatening wildlife, livestock, domestic animals, the environment, property, and people.

Read our information to:

  • prepare for the risk of wildfire
  • know what to do if you see a wildfire
  • prevent wildfires from happening
  • know what to do if you're concerned about overgrown grass. 

Prepare for the risk of wildfire

  • Have an escape plan for your safety in the event of a wildfire.
  • Make sure your family members (or members of staff, if you run a business in a rural area) know what to do and where to assemble, including how you will round up and care for pets and domestic animals in the event of a wildfire.
  • If appropriate, discuss this escape plan with your neighbours. 
  • If you live in a rural area, make sure your home number or name is clearly visible from the road or main access point – so the firefighters can easily locate your address in the event of a fire. Read our wildfire advice for living in a rural area
  • Check the current wildfire risk in your area (based on weather conditions) using the Met Office Fire Severity Index.

How you can prevent wildfires

  • Take your litter home.
  • Discard of cigarettes carefully. Never throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows.
  • Glass in direct sunlight can cause fires - ensure there is none lying around.
  • Don’t have campfires or barbecues in the countryside. Only have them in safe designated areas.
  • Avoid having bonfires in very dry weather. If you must have a bonfire, follow our bonfire safety advice
  • Talk to your children about the dangers of playing with fire and matches. Keep matches and lighters stored well away from children and teenagers. 
  • Learn how to reduce the risk of wildfires in hot weather.
  • Read about what to do if you are concerned about potential wildfires.

Report irresponsible behaviour 

Many wildfires are started deliberately or are due to careless, reckless, or irresponsible behaviour. If you see or suspect someone of acting suspiciously, recklessly, or irresponsibly in the countryside contact the Police on 101 or pass information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Always report anyone acting irresponsibly or carelessly with fire in the countryside.

Overgrown grass

If you have concerns about overgrown grass near your home


If you are particularly concerned about overgrown grass near your home, consider:

  • having a hosepipe or water easily available
  • trimming back your own hedges, plants and grass to create more space between your home and the problem area.


Reporting overgrown grass or vegetation near your home


If you’re concerned about an area of land and you don't know who owns it, you could ask your neighbours, or contact your local council. Remember that many councils will be deliberately leaving grass longer as part of their rewilding programme.

Please only call us if it is an emergency.

What to do if you see a wildfire

If you are outside

  • Stay calm.
  • Ensure you are in a safe location (away from vegetation and smoke).
  • If you are in your car, close all windows and vents.
  • Call 999 and inform us of your location – you can use a locator app such as Ordnance Survey or What3Words.

If you are at home

  • Stay calm.
  • Put yourself in a place of safety - do not try to put out the fire yourself.
  • Keep doors and windows closed but unlocked.
  • Call 999 and inform us of your location. Provide us with as much detail as possible. Including the address, OS or What3Words location.
  • Let us know the best access point to get to the property. If safe to do so, stand by the access point and speak to fire crews when they arrive.

Causes of wildfires

Wildfires are mostly started by human activity - either deliberate or accidental. On rare occasions, fires can be started by a lightning strike.

Only 10-15% of wildfires happen on their own in nature.

Most are started by human actions such as:

  • campfires
  • barbecues
  • bonfires
  • discarded cigarettes
  • fires spreading from vehicles or farm machinery
  • sunlight magnified by glass bottles sparking a fire
  • planned and controlled burning that gets out of control
  • arson.

It is often the weather conditions that determine how much a wildfire spreads. Strong winds, high temperatures or low rainfall can all leave trees, shrubs, fallen leaves and grass, dry and primed to fuel a fire. 

Source URL: https://www.dsfire.gov.uk/safety/outdoors/wildfires

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