Facebook used to help fight grass fires in north Wales

Facebook used to help fight grass fires in north Wales

04 April 2013

published by www.bbc.co.uk

United Kingdom– Social media sites are being used to help prevent deliberate grass fires after crews tackled around 150 incidents across Wales.

North Wales fire service posted a picture on its Facebook page of a large gorse fire at Cae Bog, Holyhead.

Officers said it was part of a new initiative to use social media for appeals and messages after incidents.

Firefighters across Wales have been busy since Easter with grass fires fuelled by the return of dry weather.

Crews have been working in Morriston, Pontardawe, Swansea, Llanelli, Rhondda, Maesteg, Pontypool and New Tredegar as well as Anglesey, with Tuesday being their busiest day.

Mid and West Wales Fire service fought another major grass fire overnight on Wednesday at Mynydd Gelliwastad above Morriston amid reports on Twitter that the blaze could be seen across Swansea.

Officials have been using Twitter to give updates, saying the blaze covered between 60-90 acres (25-35 hectares) but has since been extinguished.

The service tackled about 50 incidents on Tuesday alone in the mid and west Wales area.

Meanwhile, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service were also called to about 75 grass fires on Tuesday.

In north Wales over the Easter weekend there were 11 deliberate fires of which three were grass blazes.
‘Endanger lives’

North Wales fire service said it was working with police and using the force helicopter to look out for the perpetrators.

It also said there were several new initiatives this year to reduce the number of deliberate fires as well as using social media.

These include the area’s arson reduction team funding text messages warning of the consequences of deliberate fires.

As part of a pilot scheme, messages were sent to parents of pupils in Wrexham before the Easter holidays.

Another approach is to identify potential problem areas where people are starting fires in an attempt to tackle the issue immediately.

Following two grass fires over the Easter weekend, arson reduction team staff, police and youth workers will visit Maesgeirchen in Bangor on Thursday to get the message across.

Station manager Nigel Williams from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said several factors had combined to make the situation worse, including dry and windy weather as well as school holidays.

“We are working very closely with the police,” he told BBC Radio Wales.

“We are carrying out high visibility patrols in high risk areas.”

Kevin Jones, arson reduction manager with North Wales fire service, appealed to parents to be aware of “the whereabouts of their children and impress upon them the message that deliberate fires endanger lives”.

He added: “Deliberate fires, especially large scale grass and gorse fires, can place tremendous pressure on resources with our crews tied up for a considerable length of time trying to bring them under control.

“This can then prevent them from attending other life-critical incidents.”

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