A new report into UK wildfire resilience has been published by the Fire Brigades Union, uncovering a ‘dangerous’ lack of UK-wide strategy, planning and investment.
The report reveals the extent of the fragmentation and under-resourcing of fire and rescue services. During the last decade, almost 12,000 firefighter jobs have been cut while wildfire risk has increased, impacting UK-wide resilience.
None of England’s Fire and Rescue National Frameworks have referred explicitly to the risk of wildfires, despite wildfires being listed as a threat to national security on the National Risk Register since 2013. Research has found that wildfire preparation remains a ‘postcode lottery’, with no statutory obligation for including the risk in local strategies.
The report follows the hottest June on record in the UK and record-breaking September temperatures. The union argues that devastating wildfires across Europe this summer must be taken as a warning to prepare for rising temperatures over the coming years.
The union calls for a UK wide strategy and standards to prepare for wildfires; a statutory duty on the government and fire and rescue authorities to prepare; central government investment in the fire and rescue service; and funding for necessary wildfire training and PPE.
Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary said: “As the climate changes, global temperatures are fuelling increasingly devastating wildfires. Understaffing and cuts mean that the fire service is woefully under-prepared for the task ahead. Firefighters are already being pushed to breaking point responding to wildfires across the UK.
“These fires have been on the national risk register for a decade. We need a resilient, expanded fire and rescue service to ensure firefighters can respond to this threat. But instead of improvements we’ve had austerity and fragmentation, with a postcode lottery for wildfire response. To protect communities everywhere, we urgently need UK-wide standards, a coherent strategy, and investment.”
* Read: Scorched: Firefighters and resilience to wildfire here.
* Source: Fire Brigades Union