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Fire, Fire!


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Out caching on Sunday up by Cauldron Snout and we found a small, but lively fell fire. Since we carry water and there was a large cold river nearby, we did what we could to put it out. However, it raised the question - what should you do in this sort of situation? 999 seemed overkill (though that's what happened in the end anyhow) and I know some places are trying the new 101 police non-emergency number (which is what we would have done if things hadn't gone the way they did).

 

What we really wanted to do though was get hold of some sort of warden and get them to take a wonder up there and just things out, not call out the fire brigade :D

 

Is there a number to call? Is there an easy way to tell whether the fire has been put out properly or whether the peat is still alight underneath? I think we did the right thing (or at least tried to) because the fell was tinder dry and with night coming and the wind up there fanning the potential flames...

 

Could we have some advice from those people with some experience/knowledge about this sort of thing, just in case it should happen again :P

 

Bambi.

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I have been involved with many fires on the military prairie in Alberta Canada. If you can't immediately fight the fire without being in any danger, and succeed within a few minutes then dial 999. In some countries bush fires can travel at over 60mph, I would imagine that if the conditions where ripe, a fire can spread extremely fast in the UK as well.

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I have been involved with many fires on the military prairie in Alberta Canada. If you can't immediately fight the fire without being in any danger, and succeed within a few minutes then dial 999. In some countries bush fires can travel at over 60mph, I would imagine that if the conditions where ripe, a fire can spread extremely fast in the UK as well.

 

I appreciate that, and that's why we were keen to do something - In general, I'd rather be safe than sorry. Thing was, although the peat was hot and smoking when we started, we thought we'd put the fire out, so calling out the fire brigade seemed overkill somehow, but we thought someone should know about it and keep an eye. So, is there an alternative to getting three "Red Dennises" howling up the dales?

 

B.

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Don't even try and put the fire out, you could endanger yourself if you're not trained to do so. Call 999 and they can decide whether to send the fire brigade or to contact the warden. Better safe than sorry - a fire can catch you from behind and cut you off very easily - and quickly.

Edited by TheRoundings
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Don't even try and put the fire out, you could endanger yourself if you're not trained to do so. Call 999 and they can decide whether to send the fire brigade or to contact the warden. Better safe than sorry - a fire can catch you from behind and cut you off very easily - and quickly.

 

That's what we thought. This was a very small fire though, and we felt that dealing quickly (especially as there was wateron hand) was better than waiting for it to become a larger one... :P

 

B.

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Like HH I have experience from the military: in 1976 I was stopped from going on Summer leave along with the rest of my intake and made to sit in the sweltering heat waiting for a report of a fire on Barossa Common, behind RMA Sandhurst. Then we'd rush off in a 4 tonner, clad in coveralls, tucked in at the puttee and tightly belted to stop them igniting, with our old-fashioned beaters in hand while the academy called the fire brigade. Any small fire would have spread...erm, like wildfire. You can't be too careful in this weather.

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I put out a couple of very small fires over the school holidays earlier in the year. They had been started by kids (I know, coz I saw them). If I hadn't been there right away, the fires would quickly have become too large for me and I would have called 999 and got the professionals out (no Bodie and Doyle jokes, please :P ).

 

On the BBC news today there was a large fire on the Malverns. The fire officer said that the brigade have already made plans for events like this and have a couple of engines attend straight away. He also said they have specialised off road vehicles equipped for the area.

 

I have heard that fires on peat ground can set fire to the peat underneath which can then burn for days or weeks underground before re-igniting the surface.

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I have been involved with many fires on the military prairie in Alberta Canada.

You & me both, but I can only take credit for one - when the jerry can next to my hopkins genny fell over and ignited almost 20 litres of best MTgas, taking probably 10 square km of prairie with it :unsure:

 

Only one fire so far whilst out caching which seemed pretty tame by comparison:

 

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/log.aspx?LU...af-d307e584ab85

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There's only one number to call for fires - 999 (well, 2 actually, cos 112 does the same). They don't have a non-emergency number, and a 'non-emergency' fire can quickly become an 'emergency' one.

 

I recently did this when I saw some undergrowth on fire on Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead. I was very impressed that the fire brigade turned up in less than 3 minutes.

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I recently watched a fire spread in tinder-dry grass at an alarming rate, I phoned 999 to be told that the fire brigade was already on its way. I'm sure that they would rather be called out at the onset for a relatively minor job than 30 minutes later for an uncontrollable blaze.

Apart from the danger to wildlife think about all those melted plastic boxes left behind! :unsure:

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When risk risk reaches 5 (highest), Open Access areas can be closed by the authorities, although rights of way (footpaths, bridleways, byways etc) remain open. We're watching the situation in Yorkshire Dales National Park carefully, ahead of this weekend's Open 24 adventure race - see www.openadventure.com/open24.htm

 

By the way, are there any instances of plastic boxes / bottles acting as lenses to start fires, like the bases of plastic bottles can? I appreciate that plastic containers tend to be much more regular thickness than glass bottles, which is the source of lenses in glass bottles.

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Dialling 999 is a perfectly legitimate course of action in this case. A moorland fire is not trivial - as others have pointed out.

 

My work has seen me spending a lot of time in emergency services Command & Control centres, especially fire service. I've overheard a lot of stuff when I've been in there, and its amazing how trivial a matter some people will dial 999 for. The fact that there's a real fire there is more than justification itself for you to call them without like you're abusing the 999 service.

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When you phone one of the emergency services the operator will assess the call and contact the others for you anyway. So you don't have to think too long about which one to contact (probably more appropriate to road accidents - where all of them may turn up)

 

Don't bother with any non-emergency police number unless you are REALLY sure that the incident isn't an emergency or there isn't any likelihood that it will develop into an emergency. (I'm not trying to be clever, but this probably isn't the best number to call for a fire. The fire brigade fight fires - the police don't. If you read the Mail, you know as well as I do that they are all either speeding or drinking coffee; and who knows where the nearest warden will be?)

 

Always better to be safe than sorry. No one is going to have a go at you for phoning in good faith. It's the people who don't bother or who think - 'well I'm sure somebody else will phone' - who are the ones that get everyones goat :laughing: (and I haven't even got a goat!)

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A fire can smolder underground, even if you can't see anything above ground.

 

It's not you that decides how many appliances turn up, it's the emergency services. If they sent three, they believe it was a possible serious situation.

 

Don't worry, you made the right decision.

 

G

 

Thanks G (and Nick & Ali, Alistair, D from G etc) - That's what we wanted to hear! :)

 

We thought peat fires could continue underground and didn't feel we had enough experience to decide whether this was the case in this instance, so wanted someone else to check. We just wondered whether there was an alternative to 999 for this sort of "check if the fire's out" situation. Seems not.

 

Thanks for everyone's comments.

 

B.

Edited by Bambi&Thumper
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In many rural areas the folk who turn out will be the retained fire fighters. They get a fee for each call out they attend, although I'm sure this wouldn't have any affect on whether they were pleased or displeased to be called out! :)

There was a case a little while back where the off-duty shift was setting small fires for the other shift so they would bump up their call-out fees! :)

Adds a new meaning to 'productivity incentives'.

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