Wildfires have the capability to devastate farmland, wildlife and protected habitats, as well as the lives of people living and working in rural communities. The risk at spring time is particularly prevalent as dead vegetation left over from the winter, higher temperatures and lower humidity levels can come together with deadly effect. The Countryside Alliance wishes to raise the awareness of the risk and potential damage of wildfires, and educate on the measures that can be taken to reduce those risks.
Wildfires in the UK are fortunately few and far between; however, their ability to start in rural locations under difficult conditions adds a risk that rural fire and rescue services have to be prepared for. Successful partnerships and groups have been formed in high risk areas with great success; promoting cooperation and collaboration on wildfire issues.
Jack Knott, Countryside Alliance Campaigns Manager, said: “Wildfires can have potentially devastating impacts on farming and local communities, wildlife and protected habitats. It is essential that all steps are taken to reduce the risk, this includes increasing education for those that enjoy our beautiful countryside. Raising awareness is the key to reducing risk.
“Remaining vigilant, especially during spells of hot dry weather, whilst enjoying the British countryside is essential. Furthermore, disposing of litter correctly, in particularly smoking materials, can help prevent wildfires.”
Reducing the risk of wildfires
- Do not discard cigarettes
- Make sure fires and BBQs only take place in authorised places and are properly extinguished
- Do not leave fires or BBQs unattended
- Dispose of litter appropriately
- Keep fires at a manageable level
What to do if you encounter a wildfire
- Do not try and tackle the fire yourself
- Move to a safe location and call the emergency services, 999
- Give an accurate location of the wildfire
The Northumberland Fire Group – Formed in 2005 the partnership was one of the first multi-agency partnerships to be established in the UK to deal with wildfire issues. The Group delivers a range of activities to protect rural communities, the rural economy and the natural environment in Northumberland from the potentially devastating impact of wildfires.
Northumberland Collaborative Burning Project – This innovative project sees partner organisation’s share best practice, knowledge and expertise in reducing the potential risks associated with wildfires through prescribed wildfires.
The Urban Heaths Partnership – Delivers Heathland wildfire protection and awareness through increased monitoring and education through input from 14 partner organisations.
Websites of Interest
England and Wales Fire Severity Index – The Met Office’s Fire Severity Index is an assessment of how severe a fire could become if one were to start
England and Wales Wildfire Forum – A multi-agency stakeholder group of public, private and third-sector parties established to address wildfire issues
Scottish Wildfire Forum – Raising awareness of the work being undertaken across Scotland in relation to minimising the impact of wildfire
Peak District Fire Operations Groups – Preventing and fighting wild moorland fires
Moorland Association – Wildfire Mitigation
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service – Wildfire infographic
Knowledge for Wildfire – Improving management of UK wildfire through knowledge exchange
Social Media Information
Knowledge for Wildfire @KfWf_Manchester
South East England Wildfire Group @SEEngWildfireGp
Environment Agency @EnvAgency
Moorland Forum @moorlandforum
Natural Resources Wales @NatResWales
Natural England @naturalengland
Scottish Natural Heritage @snh_tweets
Heather Trust @heathertrust