Fire prevention in the PO

Emergency numbers
Fire service (sapeurs-pompiers) – 18
European emergency service – 112
Samu (medics) – 15

Check out the ‘ zonage météo’ map which gives you a daily update of firerisk zones in the P-O.

Fire safety and prevention

Did you know that every year, hundreds of hectares of forest and brush land are destroyed by fire? Quite apart from the threat to man, each fire kills, on average, per hectare;
☛ five million insects
☛ one hundred reptiles and batrachians
☛ four hundred mammals
☛ three hundred birds

It is of course vitally important to know both what to do and who to call in the region if you do spot a fire, and the legal requirements for burning garden waste, lighting BBQs etc both on public land and on your own property.

FireGeneral rules

☛ You may not light a fire at a distance of less than 200 metres from woodland, brush land or moors. This rule applies all year round.

☛ Property owners may not light a fire or burn rubbish/garden waste on their own property at a distance of less than 200 metres from woodland, brush land or moors. This rule applies from the 1st June – 30th September.

☛ Outside the risk period for property owners, the ban will still apply in times of high wind (more than 40km/hour)

☛ Outside the risk period for property owners, the burning of garden waste is entirely at the responsibility of the owner who should endeavour to……..
…….let the *local ‘mairie’ know if the fire is to be on a large scale
…….only light a fire when there is no wind
…….ensure that there are at least two people present, and that a mobile phone is available
…….ensure that the rubbish to be burnt is of a controllable size
…….have adequate water on hand in case of emergency along with equipment to fight a fire if necessary.
…….commence the burning before 10h
…….ensure that the fire is out completely.

*If a fire is lit without the permission of the Mairie, and an emergency call is made by a neighbour or passer-by who believes there to be a fire risk, quite serious fines can be imposed.

For more information on this or any aspect of fire security in the Pyrenees-Orientales, contact your local town hall, or the ‘Service Departemental Incendie et Secours’ (DDAF – Service Forestier) on 04 68 51 95 29 (ave de Grande Bretagne, 66000, Perpignan

*Debroussaillement (for property owners)

According to the ‘code forestier’ and ‘arrêté prefectoral’ of 18/13/2004, if you are the owner of land which is less than 200 metres from woodland, brush land or moors, it is your legal responsibility to limit fire risk by clearing and cutting back all undergrowth within 50 metres of your property. This should be carried out before the 15th April. Fines may be imposed where ‘debroussaillement’ has not taken place.

Your land

☛ Get rid of dry branches, brush and any other easily inflammable material that might normally be lying around your garden
☛ Prune tree branches in such a way that the tips of the branches are not touching the next tree or any cables, electrical wires
☛ Avoid growing garden hedges or tree lines at less than ten metres from the house
☛ Leave at least 5 metres distance between individual tree plantations
☛ Leave a band of at least one metre around the house with no vegetation
☛ Avoid leaving combustible materials lying around in the garden (gas bottles, paint tins etc)
☛ If you have a swimming pool, purchase a pump to enable you to utilise the water in case of emergency
☛ If you have a gas supply cylinder in your garden, dig it into the earth so that it is not exposed.

Clearing g away the land in case of fire

Your house

☛ Keep the roof free from branches
☛ If you have shutters, treat them annually with anti-inflammable paint
☛ Avoid installing flammable plastic guttering etc

What to do in case of fire

In the first instance ….
☛ Call the fire brigade on 18 or 112 (European emergency service)
☛ Open and clear all access to the property Next …..
☛ Close all gas bottles and place as far away from the house as possible
☛ Close and soak in water all doors, windows and shutters
☛ Turn off any ventilation to avoid draught
☛ Breathe through a damp cloth
☛ Try to get everybody out of the house to avoid smoke inhalation.
☛ If possible, close the door to the room which is on fire to limit spread. If you are unable to leave the building, go to a window. GET YOURSELF SEEN!
☛ If there is smoke in the room, get onto the ground and cover your nose and mouth with a wet cloth.

About fire

When the water reserves in the soil are between 100% and 30%, the evaporation of water in plants is balanced by water absorbed from the soil. Below this threshold, the plants dry out and under stress release the flammable gas ethene (ethylene). A consequence of a long hot and dry period is therefore that the air contains flammable essences and plants are drier and highly flammable.

The propagation of the fire has three mechanisms:
☛ ‘crawling’ fire: the fire spreads via low level vegetation (e.g., bushes)
☛ ‘crown’ fire: a fire that ‘crowns’ (spreads to the top branches of trees) can spread at an incredible pace through the top of a forest. Running crown fires can be extremely dangerous to all inhabitants underneath, for all the oxygen is sucked out to feed the fire above. Asphyixiation can occur.
☛ ‘jumping’ or ‘spotting‘ fire: burning branches and leaves are carried by the wind and start distant fires; the fire can thus ‘jump’ over a road, river, or even a firebreak.


Leave a Comment