Posted: Fri 18th Mar 2016

Tackling Deliberate Grass Fire Setting /
This article is old - Published: Friday, Mar 18th, 2016

An innovative project, which aims to reduce incidents of deliberate grass fire setting in Caerphilly county borough is back for 2016. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Project Bernie, which this year will be focused in the Bargoed area, uses a combination of education, diversion, prevention and enforcement to address the issue of deliberate grass fires – an issue which traditionally sees an increase during the Easter holiday period. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

This year’s project, led by the Safer Caerphilly Community Safety Partnership, was launched earlier today (Friday 18th March) at a special event in Morrisons in Bargoed. In just two hours, more than 350 signed the ‘Bernie pledge’ to not set grass fires. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Project Bernie will focus on a number of key areas including: – ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Diversionary activities for young people to encourage positive behaviour – including becoming a ‘Firefighter’ for the day, theatrical make up workshops, DJ workshops and much more
High visibility patrols – a number of agencies will provide a high profile presence in areas where this is traditionally a high level of grass fires, to act as a deterrent
General community awareness raising of the issue of deliberate grass fire setting ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Nigel George, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Public Protection said, “Project Bernie is very much about creating a permanent behavioural change through a combination of education, prevention and enforcement, and I am pleased that we are able to run this excellent project once again this year. I would encourage as many young people as possible to get involved in the activities on offer, and together we can continue to help prevent deliberately set grass fires in our county borough”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

On Thursday 17th March, the three Welsh Fire and Rescue Services also launched a short film called ‘Still Laughing?’, which is the foundation of a ‘harder hitting’ side of a the tackling deliberate grass fire setting campaign, and is aimed at secondary school aged pupils and upwards. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The theme of this strand of the campaign is to encourage fire starters and potential fire starters to think about the consequences of deliberately starting grass and mountain fires, and something that may seem like fun and a laugh can have actually have devastating consequences for the fire setter themselves such as a criminal record, the wildfire, the landscape, the Welsh economy and most importantly, it also means that firefighters could be diverted from attending a real emergency – someone trapped in a house fire or crashed car, where there is potential risk to life. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Huw Jakeway, Chief Fire Officer commented, “Tackling the issues of deliberate grass fires is as much about prevention, education and enforcement as it is about operational equipment and tactics for putting the fires out. We have been and will continue to work closely with our neighbouring Fire and Rescue Services and partner agencies to address the underlying issues of anti-social behaviour and deliberate grass fire setting that result in the devastation of the environment. We are very keen to involve the local people in stopping the blight of deliberate grass fires.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The ‘Still Laughing’ strand of the campaign has its own website – where visitors can view the short film. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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