Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is encouraging people to take care in the countryside in an attempt to reduce the number of grass fires.
"The most common causes of grass fires are discarded cigarettes"
Risk Reduction Manager, Simon Craythorn
Statistics show that in Staffordshire April is the month in which most grass fires occur, in April 2009 Staffordshire firefighters attended a staggering 249 grass fires.
Risk Reduction Manager, Simon Craythorn said: "The most common causes of grass fires are discarded cigarettes, which if thrown from a car window can ignite dry grass verges Another common way these fires start is from glass bottles which can concentrate sun rays onto dry grass and shrubbery.
"Then there are those people who set deliberate fires. You can be sure people responsible for setting a grass fire intentionally, or any incident of arson, will face serious consequences.
"Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is working in partnership to catch and convict arsonists. This crime in particular can have a very negative impact on the community, destroying people’s lives and the environment."
"If you see a grass fire do not under any circumstances try and put it out yourself. Grass fires can travel very quickly and change direction without warning. Call the fire service and we will deal with it."
Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Peter Dartford added: "For every call we receive about a grass fire which has been needlessly set by an inconsiderate individual there could be a person desperately trying to get out of a burning building or trapped in a car crash in urgent need of our assistance. This is why we treat every call as seriously as the last, and when you’re dealing with hundreds a day it can take its toll.
"Responding to and tackling deliberate grass fires has as much to do with firefighting tactics and operational equipment as it has with prevention, education and enforcement.
"We work closely with key partners to address the underlying issues behind this type of crime. Grass fires cause extensive and irreparable damage to the environment and kill local wildlife."
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service now has three Targeted Response Vehicles, housed at Hanley, Burton and Newcastle Fire Stations, which are are specifically designed and equipped to deal with small fires. Each vehicle carries 800 litres of water and is fitted with state of the art firefighting equipment as well as full CCTV technology. They have advantages over normal fire appliances because they are smaller and can therefore access more easily fires off the beaten. This is particularly important for incidents such as grass fires.