Codes of conduct

Prevent moorland fires

Prevent moorland fires

Uncontrolled wildfires in sensitive upland areas like the North Pennines cause long – lasting damage to wildlife and have a significant impact on rural communities.

Smouldering cigarette ends, discarded bottles and dropped matches can all cause uncontrolled fires on moors – particularly during the spring and summer. Serious, deep-seated fires are fatal to important animals and plants and devastating to the landscape.


Whether you are out walking, mountain-biking, horse-riding, or simply driving through the uplands, you have a role to play. Preventing wildfires is a matter of being vigilant and following a few simple steps.

Whenever you are out and about, act responsibly:

  • Make sure that cigarettes and matches are extinguished before disposing of them appropriately.
  • Ensure disposable barbecues are used safely and only where allowed, checking that they are properly extinguished and disposed of once finished with.
  • Follow all warning signs about fire risk – they are there for the safety of you and others.
  • Discard all litter, including glass bottles, appropriately.
  • Never light fires on moorland – not even gas stoves or barbecues.
  • Be particularly vigilant in the uplands during any periods of warm, dry weather, and even more so when this coincides with strong winds.

Report any smoke or fire – call 999 immediately!

If you see smoke or fire, it is important that you get yourself out of any danger and report it immediately – call 999! Delays in reporting wildfires mean that the damage caused is greater.

What happens if you call 999?

Upon calling 999, you will be asked a series of questions relating to the incident.

You need to provide both your location and the location of the smoke or fire. If you do not know exactly where you are, give the operator details about the nearest village, or the point where you started from or are heading to, and any significant landmarks.

If your call is placed during the burning season, Fire Control will check against a list of known controlled burning for the day. If the location is not included on the list, the Fire and Rescue Service will respond.

Do not be afraid to make that call – the Fire and Rescue Service would rather attend to a well intended false alarm than have an unreported incident turn into a major wildfire. The sooner they can respond to an event, the quicker and easier it will be for them to assess the situation and put the fire out, if needed.

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