More chimney fires than normal for this time of year have occurred in Laois due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
However, with most people complying with the stay at home rules there have been less road collisions according to Laois Fire Service Assistant Chief Fire Officer Anthony Tynan.
“It has been relatively quiet, there were a couple of fires in derelict houses, and some minor crashes. Traffic volume is down but there has been a few minor crashes. Most incidents are chimney fires. Normally they have tapered off by this time of year but it seems to be extending I suppose with more people at home,” he said.
“I would ask people to check if their chimneys are ok. Check their smoke alarms are working and close the door of bedrooms at night, these all help to save lives in a fire,” he said.
Meanwhile, all controlled burning of vegetation or land has been banned in Laois and Ireland during the Covid-19 pandemic, to avoid extra work on emergency services. This includes the burning of cut vegetation which is normally done with a permit from local authorities.
Breaking the ban can incur hefty charges.
Mr Tynan said the ban on burning from March 1 to August 31 is largely being respected.
“We are very fortunate that people are respecting the requests, that is very welcome. There have been very few, one or two small gorse fires. The request has been very well respected and we ask landowners to continue that,” he said.
Laois County Council confirmed that controlled burning of land is suspended until further notice.
“In light of the on-going Covid-19 Emergency, as a measure to reduce non-emergency calls to Fire Service calls centres, controlled burning by the agricultural community is not permitted in County Laois from 1pm, March 27 until further notice,” it said.
“Please note that all notices informing Laois County Council of controlled burning will not be accepted for the duration of this emergency and persons must refrain from all forms of controlled burning at this time,” they say.
Any reports of burning made will result in a visit by the fire service and a fee.
If a 999/112 call is received relating to any controlled burning event on property, the fire service will attend. All the costs will be invoiced to the property owner.
The Cathaoirleach Cllr Willie Aird emphasised the need to make farmers aware.
“It is critically important that we tell farmers on our website that there is no controlled burning,” he said.