Impactful campaign encouraged positive behaviour change in key areas in South Wales
South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) have reduced the number of deliberate grass fires from February to August this year (2016) by 45% in comparison to the same period in 2015, where the Service tackled over 1600 deliberate grass fire incidents.
This year, the Service launched its ambitious grass fire strategy – ‘Grass Fires Have Consequences’ – with the aim of creating positive behaviour change in relation to deliberate fire setting and anti-social behaviour when it came to grass fires and was fully supported by the Welsh Government.
The campaign, which started in February 2016, concentrated on the Rhondda Cynon Taf area as an identified and consistent hotspot of deliberate grass fire incidents. It consisted of the Service’s mascot – Bernie the Sheep – heading to primary schools to highlight the impact of deliberate fire setting to pupils in their local community. Over 2,500 key stage two pupils signed up to the grassroots pledge during this time.
As a Service we have also developed a high impact short film aged at secondary school pupils – ‘Still Laughing’ – which has been one of the Service’s most successful campaign films with over 14,000 views of the trailer and 7,500 of the full version.
Huw Jakeway, Chief Fire Officer for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said, “Over years, deliberate grass fires has been described by some as risk free fun and cultural accepted across many of our communities. Our grass fire campaign this year took on that challenge and we hope that we are positively changing behaviour so that our communities fully understand the impact deliberate fire setting can have on our fantastic countryside.
“We could not have done so much without our partners so we have worked closely with: Gwent and South Wales Police, Natural Resources Wales, the Wildlife Trust, probation services and our Local Authorities to ensure that our messages were as far reaching as possible and have a lasting impression.”
Garry Davies, Head of Community Safety and Partnerships for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service added, “This year’s campaign has been a fantastic success and our stations and community safety teams have been out working with schools, young people and the community as a whole to share the campaign message, that grass fires really do have consequences.
“We can’t rest on our laurels and there is more work to be done, but we have seen a positive change in those who have been part of our engagement activity and we hope that there continues to be a reduction in the number of deliberate grass fires in years to come.”
South Wales Fire and Rescue Service produced a summary video of the campaign which highlights the impact and reach of the campaign - http://bit.ly/grassfireshaveconsequences - and the Service has also been shortlisted for two CIPR Cymru Pride Awards in recognition of the campaign.
The ‘grass fires have consequences’ communications approach is part of a wider Strategic Arson Reduction Board grass fire reduction strategy (Dawns Glaw) that has been developed by the three Fire and Rescue Services of Wales, with the support of their partners, to reduce the number of grass and mountain fires across Wales.
The wider strategy focused on the communication, education, diversion and enforcement messages and initiatives that all partners developed and implemented according to their particular areas of focus – for South Wales the emphasis is on the reduction of deliberate grass and mountain fires.
For more information about the strategy and the campaign, visit www.southwales-fire.gov.uk
Tel: 01443 232000 Fax: 01443 232165
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