Monday 12 June 2023

UK firefighters prepped for wildfires

UK firefighters prepped for wildfires

British firefighters are now receiving training similar to that in Southern Europe or the US, to battle the high risk of wildfires – rising with climate change.

New specialist response units will be set up, similar to what’s seen in the Mediterranean, with hundreds of small wildfires already popping up around the UK and the country’s largest ever ongoing in Scotland.

Paul Hedley, Chief Fire Officer and Wildfire Lead for the National Fire Chiefs Council, said: “All of this learning from international partners, who are probably still some years ahead of us, is a very sensible way of trying to get us ahead of the curve.”

Last July, more than 90 buildings were destroyed by wildfires and estimations show the damage will only get worse with increasing temperatures induced by climate change.

A nationwide training programme could be instated to deal with this change and employ new techniques to British firefighting.

Surrey Fire and Rescue has witnessed the most wildfires recently; tackling 80 this year already.

Fire Investigations Officer Matt Oakley said: “Our climate is changing – it’s changing beyond recognition. What used to be a nine to 12-year cycle, this is every year now. We are heading towards a northern Mediterranean climate in the southeast of England within the next decade and this will be business as usual day in, day out.”

The Fire Brigades Union is calling for more government funding to train firefighters to deal with increasing temperatures.

The Home Office responded: “The Home Office works closely with the National Fire Chiefs Council and England and Wales Wildfire Forum to continue to improve our response to wildfires and mitigate them.”

Written by

Bruna Pinhoni

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