BRING a picnic - not a barbecue is the plea to visitors to the Dorset coast and countryside this summer and authorities highlight the devastation caused by fires in the open.

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) is launching its wildfire prevention campaign during National Picnic Week (June 19-26).

The campaign aims to remind residents, as well as day trippers and holidaymakers, to take care in the beautiful open spaces this summer. During 2021, firefighters across Dorset and Wiltshire attended 494 wildfires. Already in 2022, firefighters across the UK have attended more wildfires than last year.

The Wareham Forest fire of May 2020, which is believed to have been started by a disposable barbecue, was one of the most devastating forest and heath fires in Dorset in living memory.

Disposable barbecues being left behind when still hot are a known cause of heath and forest fires, as are campfires. This campaign aims to reduce this risk by encouraging people to choose alternatives. It also highlights that barbecues and fires are banned on heathland, in forests and in many other high risk areas across Dorset, including at Wareham Forest.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Andy Cole said: “These incidents highlight just how devastating, and resource intensive, wildfires are. With nice weather hopefully on the way, it is only natural to want to go outdoors and enjoy it with friends and family, but it is also important to stay fire-aware when out and about. The idea behind the #BringAPicnicNotABBQ campaign is to remind those enjoying our countryside that bringing a picnic is a much safer option than having a barbecue.”

Inspector Danny Tamblyn, Dorset Police said: “Wildfires have a huge impact on the local community. When these incidents occur, not only are large areas of forest, heathland and its wildlife destroyed, road closures have to be put in place that inconvenience many people and firefighters risked their lives to tackle the blaze and bring it under control.

“We are joining our emergency service colleagues and partner agencies to remind the public to protect our environment this summer and avoid having fires or barbecues on our heathland or forests. The effect can be devastating to our nature and wildlife.”

As reported, Litter Free Dorset has encouraged businesses across Dorset to choose to remove disposable barbecues from sale as they are a big fire risk.

More information on staying safe and enjoying outside areas whilst avoiding starting a wildfire can be found at