FARMERS have been urged to alert firefighters when they carry out controlled burning of heather, bracken and gorse in order to speed up the emergency response times if they get out of hand.

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service (NWFRS) issued advice for rural landowners to ‘call before you burn’ as the designated season for controlled fires began on October 1. The traditional agricultural practice is used by farmers to improve grazing for livestock and conservation management, as well as reducing the risk of long grass wildfires.

The Heather and Grass Burning Code states that burning is only allowed in upland environments from October to March 31, while burning on other land must take place from November 1 to March 15.

However the fires can spread quickly and get out of control if they are not carried out responsibly, posing a risk to people, wildlife and property.

As part of its annual awareness-raising campaign, NWFRS plans to attend livestock markets across North Wales to update landowners on a range of safety measures related to controlled burns.

Justin Evans, head of community safety for NWFRS, said controlled burning “can spread quickly and is extremely unpredictable”.

“Every year during controlled burning season we are called to countless false alarms and controlled burns which have spread, resulting in valuable land and property being destroyed, as well as tying up our resources which could be put to better use elsewhere,” he said.

“We therefore urge all landowners undertaking controlled burning to notify us first by calling our control room to avoid false alarms and fire crews being sent out unnecessarily.”

Mr Evans added it is landowners’ responsibility to protect wildlife living there and that “if natural nesting areas are burnt out of the burning season it is not just a matter of breaking the law but also severely damaging the ecology of our landscapes”.

“Farmers have responded positively to our campaign in previous years – I would like to thank them for this and ask them to continue to be responsible,” he said.

If you plan to carry out a controlled burn contact NWFRS by calling on 01931 522006. For further advice visit

If you witness a deliberate fire that is not a controlled burn, you should contact North Wales Police by calling 101 or anonymously to Crimestoppers.