Councils introduce new measures to prevent grass fires

Image above: Fire in Hanworth Park; photograph Friends of Hanworth Park

Stepping up Park Ranger patrols

Hounslow Council has said it is stepping up measures to try and prevents fires in the borough’s parks.

After blazes in Feltham and Hanworth Park last week, park rangers and other parks workers are mounting extra patrols throughout the parks during the hot, dry weather, on the lookout for potential fire hazards.

‘Vegetation is being cut back and the existing fire breaks are being doubled in size and reinforced in key areas.’

Council teams will also be conducting more litter picks to collect items that could start a fire, such as glass bottles.

The Council and its partners are putting up signs in many of the main parks reminding people about the dangers of certain behaviours at a time of heightened fire risk.

Fire in Hanworth Park

On Tuesday 2 August six fire engines and 40 firefighters and council parks services worked for more than three hours to bring a grass fire under control at Hanworth Park. Council officers and team members from GreenSpace 360 had the job of cleaning up after the fire.

The aftermath saw significant damage to a field within the park.

‘Thanks to the quick action of the partners, it is believed that the plants, trees and wildlife habitats affected will recover’ the Council says.

There were no injuries or damage to any properties. An investigation into the cause of the fire is now underway. Hounslow Council is urging residents and visitors to continue to respect the ban on barbecues and open fires in the borough’s parks and green spaces.

Hounslow Council’s Cabinet Member for Parking, Parks and Leisure, Councillor Salman Shaheen, visited the scene of the Hanworth Park blaze on Wednesday (3 August) to assess the damage and discuss the new measures being introduced.

Councillor Shaheen said:

“Visiting the scene of the blaze at Hanworth Park today, I could still feel the heat coming off the ashes. That this fire was not significantly worse was thanks to the London Fire Brigade and our own teams for their rapid response.

“The brave efforts of those involved have undoubtedly prevented more damage to this important green space.

“I could also see that the fire breaks we had put in place worked to limit the devastation and so we will be reinforcing and expanding our fire breaks in areas of risk across the borough.”

Image above: Turnham Green; photograph Barbara Chandler

Turnham Green

LB Hounslow introduced new park rangers a few months ago. There are two based in Chiswick to look after Turnham Green and Chiswick Back Common. Their job is to watch out for antisocial behaviour but they are also a first line of defence against fires.

Cllr Ron Mushiso organises regular litter picks on Turnham Green, on the fourth Sunday of every month. The next one will be on Sunday 28 August. Meet the group at Christ Church at 2.30pm if you would like to help. They finish with tea and biscuits in the church at 3.30pm.

Image above: Benches at the Turnham Green Terrace piazza; photograph by Barbara Chandler

Acton Green Common

Ealing Council has also increased parks staff. A council spokesperson told us:

“Another litter crew was added this summer and we are also helped by the wonderful volunteers with LagerCAN, who have been litter picking some of our meadows.”

The Council has also started meadow cutting because of the weather, to reduce the risk of fire.

Neither council allows the use of barbeques in parks and open spaces.

Image above: Chiswick House Gardens; photograph Alanna McCrum

Chiswick House

Chiswick House played host to Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place Festival at the weekend (6-7 August).

“There is always a lot of litter left after big events” Chiswick House head gardener Rosie Fyles told The Chiswick Calendar.

She says on the whole people have been more responsible since the start of the Covid pandemic and a lot now take their litter home with them.

“We have noticed the remains of a few small fires in the last couple of weeks” she told us “but generally people are behaving responsibly.

“We are aways managing fire risk, especially as we are looking after a historic property.

“I think there is a collective holding of breath at the moment as there aren’t the resources to be able to completely eradicate the risk of fire.

“I am also beginning to notice the effect of the drought on the park’s mature trees and shrubs”, she told us.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: London Fire Brigade tackles serious grass fire in west London

See also: Flat fire in Shepherd’s Bush

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.