Fire chiefs urge people against barbecues amid hot and dry conditions

Fire chiefs are urging people not to have barbecues while conditions are so hot and dry, especially in public open spaces.

Dudley Road allotment fire, August 8
Dudley Road allotment fire, August 8

As the West Midlands experiences a second heatwave this summer, people have been urged to look after themselves and others as temperatures soar.

The Met Office has issued an ‘amber’ warning for extreme heat, lasting until Sunday. Temperatures across the West Midlands are forecast to reach the mid-thirties.

And, according to the Met Office’s Fire Severity Index, any fires that start could become ‘very high’ in severity.

The amber warning means people could experience adverse health effects, and that some changes in working practices and daily routines could be needed.

Phil Loach, West Midlands Fire Service’s (WMFS) chief fire officer, said: "Last month, including the period when a ‘red’ extreme heat warning was in place, our staff worked exceptionally hard in challenging circumstances to keep our communities safe.

"For the whole of July, our average attendance time for serious incidents in high-risk areas was 4 minutes and 50 seconds, which is within our five-minute standard.

"The average for outdoor fires was 6 minutes 50 Seconds - well within our 20-minute standard. This was in spite of increased demand caused by the heatwave.

"I want to reassure people that, as ever, we have plans in place 24/7 to ensure that we can answer 999 calls and respond to fires and other emergencies.

"However, I would also appeal to everyone to do what they can to ensure fires don’t start in the first place. Please also check on more vulnerable family members, friends, and neighbours for whom the heat might be an extra burden.

"We are urging people not to have barbecues while the conditions are so hot and dry, especially in public open spaces. They’re not allowed in many of our local councils’ parks.

Chiefs have also issued warnings around the temptation of a cooling swim as the heat continues.

Rob Barber, chief fire officer in Staffordshire, said: "Open water may look tempting but there can be lots of hidden hazards – It’s usually deeper, colder and more dangerous than it looks.

"Even the strongest swimmers can get into difficulties, with a serious risk of cold water shock and drowning.

"Please take the time to talk to your children about water safety so that they understand the risks, look out for their friends and know what to do in an emergency.

"There is a range of helpful resources on our website."

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