Henley Town Council and Fire Station are encouraging residents to be vigilant of fire hazards in the hot weather. Following the temporary ban on barbecues at Marsh Meadows, the council and fire services are warning locals of the numerous fire risks in the current blazing heat, including glass, cans, and cigarettes.
Barbecues were banned in Marsh Meadows last Monday, 2nd July due to the tinder dry conditions — a decision heavily endorsed by Henley Fire Chief, Nick Windsor. “We are obviously happy to support the council’s view in trying to stop barbecues in long grass and fields, particularly in this weather when they can start fires so easily,” he commented. “With the breeze it can spread so quickly and change direction, which can put people’s lives at risk and people’s properties at risk, so any efforts to try and minimise a fire happening are widely supported by us.”
Mr Windsor was keen to highlight that barbecues aren’t the only danger to be aware of. Particularly, he noted the hazard that glass and cans can pose, which many people are unaware of. “Anything can cause a spark in this heat — cigarettes can do it, and it doesn’t take a lot to cause a fire these days,” he added. “But it’s even important to be conscious about where you put glass bottles, and stuff like that. A small shard of glass can cause a field fire regularly enough, so make sure you dispose of glass bottles appropriately.”
The warning comes in light of the news of huge fires, both nationally and locally. Only last week, there were fires in Marlow, Christmas Common, and Maidenhead, causing some irreparable damage to properties. The ban on Marsh Meadows barbecues is just one step in reducing the chance of a similar emergency in Henley. Councillor Kellie Hinton, Chair of the Recreation & Amenities (R&A), said, “One thing that surprised me is I didn’t realise just how many things can start fires. Even I didn’t realise just how tiny something needs to be to be able create such massive devastation.” She continued, “You can see from the meadow just how dry it is, and it’s only going to get hotter. We’ve banned the barbecues down here for a reason. It’s not a permanent decision at the moment; it could become one. We’ll see how it goes.”
The council, park services and fire station teams are encouraging people to carry water on them at all times for safety, as well as hydration. Nick Windsor advised, “There’s a ban on barbecues in the meadows completely, but people can still go to other places and light them. If you do, bear in mind where they are, what ground they’re on, and if you have small portable barbecues, have at least two bottles of water to make sure it’s fully cooled before you leave.”
To enforce the barbecue ban, the Town Council have employed a park ranger, who will patrol the area during peak times. However, Kellie Hinton was quick to add that neither he, nor the Parks Services team, are a substitute for the emergency services. “Our parks team obviously do many wonderful things, and a variety of jobs within their roles, but they are not police, they are not security guards, and they are not the fire service, so we can’t expect them to be doing those jobs,” she stated.
Henley residents are reminded to call the fire services should they get into trouble. Nick Windsor urged, “Think safe, take precautions, and if something does start, call 999 – don’t try and tackle it because it can change so quickly and turn serious.”