As a regular visitor to Wales I’ve been saddened by the updates from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service on their Twitter feed and Wales Online regarding the fires that are devastating land and habitation, as well as putting people at risk and danger. Closer to home at a birthday celebration on Saturday a friend was talking about the fires in Surrey. Yesterday I was walking around one of the local woods admiring the age old trees, the new shoots, the fox holes, the badger setts, the bird nests, the greenery, the shade and the beauty of the great outdoors. I was marvelling at what is around us and was grateful for the open countryside that is home to many plants and animals.
As someone who enjoys being outside I have I hope instilled the basic rules of the countryside in my children. They know that they should look after the countryside. They know not to throw litter, not to pick wildflowers, not to poke their heads down animal homes, not to disturb nests, not to break branches and I’d like to think this has sunk in. I’ve also had the chat about fires. Fires are dangerous they know that, I know that. We have an open fire which I am in charge of – it’s my responsibility. I enjoy having bonfires, again I am in charge of it and I keep it under control never letting it get too high, never leaving it unattended, never starting a bonfire on a windy day. It’s what I have been taught.
Fire can be warm, cosy, romantic. The flames dance around, the room heats up, the house feels cosy whilst in garden the bonfire burns the garden waste. However, fires can be dangerous and in the wrong hands devastating. You might see a fire engine hurtling down the road and have no idea what it is going to, whilst the fire crews are aware of what they’re going and their response time is critical and fire has a mind of its own. These people in fire engines have lives, husbands, wives, children, parents and friends. They are doing a job that isn’t romantic or glamourous. In fire situations they are working in unbelievable heat, sometimes outside in a wide expanse of land sometimes in cramped conditions, solely focussed on a safe outcome regardless of the circumstances.
Which is why the news about the fires in South Wales have angered me so much. Who is responsible for starting fires and putting people’s lives at risk. Who is going home reeking of smoke and carrying on with their lives. Who is killing the countryside. Who is leaving it to others to clear up their mess? What kind of person knowingly starts a fire and then leaves it to spread causing untold and irretrievable damage? What kind of person put others in danger protecting others? What kind of person watches when a fire takes hold and does nothing? What kind of person carries on with their life knowing that they are responsible?
Each fire appliance and team dealing with an arson attack means appliances and team are not available to deploy to other situations, just imagine being that someone who had started a fire intentionally needed a fire engine and crew for themselves or someone in their family and there wasn’t one because of their idiotic behaviour? Then what. Who would they blame? Not themselves. The fire service is stretched enough as it is, it’s unfair that they are having to deal with deliberate fires started by mindless idiots when there are genuine incidents requiring a quick response. I spoke to one South Wales Fire Officer yesterday who told me he had driven 200 miles and was working a 48 hour weekend.
Oh it’s all very well for me in Wokingham to jump up and down but having worked closely with the local fire crews I appreciate them. Before I met him Big Welsh wanted to be a fireman. When I go back to Wales the lush green countryside will look vastly different and the fact that these fires are being started deliberately angers me so much.
As I used to say in my assemblies if you know someone is being bullied and you say nothing then you are as bad as a bully for letting it happen. The same goes with deliberate fire starters. So please, if you know anything about these deliberate fires please say something before it gets worse and innocent people die. Someone might need help now.
You can phone the Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, please.
Please help to put a stop to these deliberate fires and let the countryside be there for all to enjoy, for years to come.