The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has issued a status orange – high fire risk warning.
The alert is effective from yesterday (Thursday, March 24th, 2022) to 12 pm on Monday, March 28th, 2022, pending “significant” rainfall.
Arising from current high pressure dominated weather patterns, a high fire risk is deemed to exist in all areas where hazardous fuels such as dead grasses and shrub fuels such as heather and gorse exist.
The DAFM expects an increase in fire risk through the coming weekend as these conditions persist.
The warning confirmed that current ignition risks appear to be mainly associated burning of vegetation in upland areas.
It outlined that lower daytime humidity levels and light to moderate wind speeds are likely to influence fire behaviour and rates of spread during the lifespan of this warning.
The alert highlighted that wind speeds might exceed 20km/h in some areas at times. It added that higher windspeeds would increase suppression requirements where these occur.
The DAFM has urged all forest owners and managers to prepare for likely fire outbreaks.
Review fire lines, fire plans and fire suppression equipment and confirm and check other relevant contingencies such as insurance, helicopter contracts etc.
The DAFM asks:
- Forest owners, farmers, rural dwellers and other countryside users to be extremely vigilant regarding fire activity;
- Report any suspicious or illegal activity to the Gardaí;
- Report all fires immediately to the fire and emergency services via 112/999.
Fire mitigation measures
The DAFM recommends that forest owners and managers should consider the fire mitigation measures that they can put in place to help prevent loss or damage to forest resources through fire.
It provided the following examples:
- Firstly, prepare: Develop fire plans showing all access routes and assembly points for fighting personnel, equipment, and potential water sources. Also include contact details for the emergency services, landowners, forestry owners, ect. Have fire-fighting tools available.
- Vigilance: Fire patrols may be warranted in known fire hotspots. Co-operate with fire planning and share the burden of fire patrols and vigilance during high-risk periods.
- Risk assessment: Assess your property regarding fire risk and mitigation factors.
- Obey the law: It is an offence to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated between March 1st and August 31st in any year. Report all suspicious or illegal activity to Gardaí immediately. Landowners wishing to carry out legally permitted prescribed burning must notify in writing all forest owners within one mile of the wood, and the local Garda station, between 7 and 35 days in advance of the burning operation.
- Report fires and losses: If you see a fire, report it immediately to the fire and emergency services. Meanwhile, if your forest is damaged or destroyed, report this to your local Garda station and the DAFM.
Meanwhile, according to Met Éireann, temperatures will reach 17 degrees Celsius this weekend, with values to remain high into early next week.
There will be largely dry days with spells of sunshine, with some mist and fog to form at night.
Winds will stay rather light, with cloudier conditions expected from Tuesday onwards.
It exchanges a change on Wednesday as cooler air blankets hit the country. They will bring scattered showers and lower temperatures of 6 to 9 degrees Celsius in brisk, northerly winds.