A NEW venture between the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and farmers could help tackle grass fires, after more than 1,000 deliberate incidents were reported in 2017.

Firefighters will be holding their first partnership burn, where the farming community burn away excess grass on their land, on Thursday, March 22 in the Rhymney Valley.

The move draws on similar successful schemes around the world and aims to encourage more farmers and landowners to develop safe and effective “burn plans”.

In 2017, there were 80 accidental and 1073 deliberate grass fires across south Wales and the partnership will create four specialist controlled burn teams.

Del Llewellyn, a landowner engagement officer for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “While we already use many tried and tested ways to engage with the public around the issue of grass fires, this is the very first time we will work directly with a farmer to look at the problem.

“The extent of a wildfire is due to a number of factors; one being the amount of fuel available to burn.

“By removing this fuel, and working with farmers and landowners, this process can be done in a safe and controlled manner.

“Alongside our awareness and prevention work in communities, working with farmers and landowners in this way really has the potential to reduce the number of grass fires, which cause so much damage and destruction across our communities each year.”

The South Wales Fire and Rescue Service is part of Dawns Glaw, a multi-agency task force set up to reduce the number of deliberate grass fires in Wales.

The operation educates landowners about the dangers and impact of illegal burning outside of the prescribed period and raises awareness about the consequences of deliberate grass fires, that can result in prosecution.

The four specialist controlled burn teams will be based at Merthyr, Tonypandy, Aberdare and Aberbargoed fire stations.