Communities left exposed by gorse fires: Murphy

May 25, 2010

Fews area Sinn Féin Councillor, Turlough Murphy, has warned that local communities could be left exposed as Fire crews and resources are involved in tackling gorse fires.

The Councillor was commenting after up to 70 fire-fighters were involved in dealing with a major gorse fire in Camlough on Saturday.

“Putting out these gorse fires, regardless of their size and location, requires both fire-fighters and equipment at the scene to deal with the fire and this can put extra pressure on Fire Service resources, particularly when there are multiple gorse fires happening. “It’s not just the large fires on hillsides and mountains that take up time and resources, the smaller fires involving grass, bushes and leaves all take up valuable time and resources,” Councillor Murphy said.

“Tackling the larger gorse fires can be extremely difficult as they are often in remote hillside and mountain locations which can be difficult for fire-fighters to access. Gorse fires are also dangerous and the fact that we attend so many deliberate gorse fires each year means that the public and fire-fighters are exposed to this unnecessary danger.

“Ultimately crews are diverted away from other emergencies because of gorse fires.”

Mr Murphy appealed to people not to start fires deliberately.

“With this current spell of dry, sunny weather, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of fires involving gorse, grass, bushes and leaves and the reality is that local communities may be left exposed, while fire-fighters are out tackling these fires,” he said.