Farmers warned to be ‘extra vigilant’ as risk of forest fires increases

Farmers have been warned by the IFA to be ‘extra vigilant’ after the Forest Service issued a high fire risk warning.

A Condition Orange – High Fire Risk has been issued by the Fire Service; this warning is set to remain in place until next Tuesday (April 18) in all areas, unless there is significant rainfall.

fire risk status will generally arise following extended periods of low precipitation, moderate relative humidity and low-to-moderate wind conditions; these conditions have the capacity to significantly increase the risk of wildfire initiation and spread.

Some farmers have already suffered financial losses this season as a result of fires, according to the IFA’s Farm Forestry Chairman Pat Collins.

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, he said.

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 fire-breaks are maintained.

“A fire-break should consist of a 6m-wide fuel-free zone, typically around the boundary of the forest,” Collins added.

He encouraged farmers to review the fire plan for their forestS, or to prepare a fire plan – especially if the forest is located in a high risk area.

The plan should identify and map:
  • The risks and the likely outcomes if there Is a fire.
  • Assembly points.
  • Access and escape routes.
  • Reservoirs or water points.
  • Fire-breaks.

The plan should also contain contact details for the local fire station, local Garda station and registered forester, Collins added.

“Forest fires have caused devastation as well as significant financial losses 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 and make sure there is adequate insurance cover in place,” he said.

He advised that if you see a fire, do not delay, report it to the Fire and Emergency Services by calling 999 or 112.

Collins stressed that you will not be billed by the Fire Service or Local Authority for making the call.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has issued a list of tips and advice to forest owners, based in high fire risk areas.

Firefighters across the country have attended numerous wildfires in recent weeks.

Last night, it has been reported, two units of the fire brigade from An Cheathru Rua and Clifden attended a gorse fire in the Maam Cross area of Co. Galway for over an hour.