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Residents urged to be vigilant against outdoor fire risks during hot spell

MERSEYSIDE Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) is urging local residents to take extra care against the risk of outdoor fires during the current spell of hot weather. During the last few days crews have had to tackle bush and grass fires in a number of sites across Merseyside including Bidston Hill and Sherdley Park, St Helens.

With the increased risk of spontaneous ignition to grass and woodland due to the prolonged high temperatures, residents are being asked to be extra vigilant when out in the countryside or on the coast.

With open ground temperatures rising very high in some areas currently, there is also the risk of fires even starting out of sight underground through smouldering peat and other materials. Fires like this can then spread rapidly over ground in the current temperatures.

To help combat these risks MFRS is issuing the following guidance for residents to follow:-

Ensure cigarettes are extinguished correctly and cannot reignite - don't throw cigarette ends on the ground - take your litter home.

Never throw cigarette ends out of car windows.

Avoid using open fires in the countryside.

Don't leave bottles or glass in woodland - sunlight shining through glass can start fires (take them home and recycle them).

Only use barbecues in a suitable and safe area and never leave them unattended.

If you see a fire, report it to the fire and rescue service immediately by calling:- 999 and give the nearest main road that the fire appliance can access.

Don't attempt to tackle fires - leave the area as quickly as possible.

During the current hot spell there is also an increased risk of fires being started deliberately.

In the last week fire crews have attended 112 fires involving grassland, 78 of which are suspected to have been started deliberately.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Arson Team Manager Michael Buratti said:- "In the current hot weather spell there is clearly an increased risk of fires in wooded, bush and grassed areas starting either accidentally or spontaneously. However there is also a direct link between deliberate fires and the warm temperatures due to grassland and vegetation being very dry which creates ideal conditions for a fire to develop. This means that deliberate fires involving grass, trees and vegetation are also likely to spread very quickly."

Deliberately setting a fire is arson. Deliberate fires are investigated and The Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Arson Team will be working with Merseyside Police, Local Authorities and other partner agencies to identify offenders. "Our advice to residents is to take care when out in grassed and wooded areas, be vigilant but also report any suspicious activity to ourselves and the Police immediately."

As part of its current operations to tackle grassland fires, MFRS is positioning some hosing equipment near at risk sites to ready for quick use in case of repeated fire incidents.

Members of the public are asked not to move the equipment or be aware that it is unnecessary to report their presence to us as this is part of part of current operational procedures.

Work Begins on ₤16 Million Birkdale Care Village

SITE clearance is underway in Birkdale, Southport, prior to the construction of the latest ₤16 million state of the art development on behalf of care village operator, Belong. This follows the appointment of North West construction company, Pochin, as main contractor.

Once completed, the new development, on Oxford Road, will provide high specification accommodation for over 100 people and will feature a 74 bed village, divided into six households, providing 24 hour care and nursing support. In addition, the village will offer 30 one and 2 bedroom independent living apartments, together with a range of facilities open to the public, including a bistro, hair salon, exercise studio and function rooms.

Belong Birkdale will be the 8th multi million pound development in the North West for the not-for-profit organisation, which currently operates villages in:- Warrington, Wigan, Crewe, Macclesfield, Atherton, Didsbury and Newcastle Under Lyme. It is known for its industry-leading, specialist dementia care and its village model has been designed to provide maximum engagement with local communities.

Deputy chief executive of Belong, Tracy Paine, is pleased to have Pochin on board and is looking forward to completion, as the organisation expands its operation. She commented:- "I'm excited to see work underway to clear the older buildings on the site to enable construction to commence on what will be our first coastal development. Birkdale is a perfect location for Belong and I'm confident that we can create something of real benefit to the local community, as well as providing the high quality care services for our customers, for which we are recognised in the care sector."

Freddie Richards, investment director at Octopus Healthcare, a UK leading investor, developer and manager of healthcare properties and part of the Octopus Group, said:- "We are delighted to be forming a long term partnership with Belong, whose pioneering household and community led approach to elderly care has a proven track-record of success. The facility in Birkdale will be of great benefit to the local community and we look forward to supporting the team in its delivery."

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