Wildfires are a growing problem for the UK and can have a significant impact on property, the environment, the economy, infrastructure and communications. More importantly, wildfires pose a significant risk to the safety of firefighters, members of the public and communities alike.
The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) are driving the work nationally to move the UK towards a structured, holistic, approach to wildfire preparedness, prevention, and intervention. A key focus of this work is to emphasise and promote close partnership working by all key stakeholders. This wildfire prevention toolbox, representing a collection of the best practice available around the World, represents an important step in this work.
The Wildfire Prevention Toolkit is divided into a number of key chapters which can be downloaded and viewed separately below:
Chapter 1 - Strategic Aims
There is a growing problem with wildfires in the UK. This problem is worsened not only because wildfire incidents tend to occur concurrently in different locations (causing an issue with resilience), but also because of the lack of awareness of the hazards these incidents pose to the safety of communities, individuals and firefighters.
While there are services/organisations that are aware of the risks posed by wildfires and which have effective solutions in place to deal with these incidents, the problem is a national one and there is no agreed framework for sharing literature and information to help those that want to learn how to manage wildfire risk more effectively.
The problems Fire and Rescue Services, other organisations and local communities face are compounded by the fact that wildfires can be sporadic, as frequency depends on weather conditions, land use and time of year. If you live or work in a part of the UK that has not yet experienced a wildfire, it does not mean that the problem will not exist at some time in the future. For this reason, it is important to have not only an effective prevention programme in place, but also an effective partnership framework in which to operate and deliver it.
The Wildfire Prevention Toolkit therefore has two key strategic aims:
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- To provide a toolbox of wildfire prevention activities that can be used, dependent upon the available resources within each Fire Service, partnership or organisation.
- To encourage Fire and Rescue Services to form effective partnerships to ensure the optimal delivery of prevention initiatives prior to any wildfire occurring
Chapter 2 - Understanding Risk
To enable the shared preventative activities that this document aspires to it is important to have both a common understanding of the problem (the risk or threat to the UK) and also terminology relevant to the UK. Agreed terminology is therefore important and the wrong terminology could undermine preventative efforts.
This chapter of the toolkit therefore looks to ensure that the wildfire risk posed to communities and Fire and Rescue Services is fully understood. The chapter explains a number of terms and concepts associated with wildfires and presents definitions of these terms to help ensure a common understanding.
The terms and concepts explained within this chapter include:
- Rural Urban Interface (RUI)
- Ground fires
- Surface fires
- Near surface/Elevated fires
- Aerial fires
Some terms are explored in greater depth to ensure a full awareness of the risks that communities may be exposed to, including:
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- Direct flame
- Ember threat
Chapter 3 - Education
Most wildfires in the UK originate from human activity. These will either be leisure activities or deliberate acts and more often than not will be carried out by people unaware of the risks associated with fire, especially wildfires. Educating individuals, organisations and communities as a whole about these risks can therefore go a long way to forging an understanding of how these behaviours contribute to the problem, and how modifying them forms part of the solution.
This chapter contains examples of good practice in wildfire education from both the UK and overseas. Whilst it is not exhaustive, this chapter is intended as a starting point for effective education to be provided without the time and effort required to create completely innovative education activities.
The examples of good practice discussed within this chapter are divided into 8 sub-sections, each of which contains a number of prevention initiatives that can be taken and used ‘as is’ or adapted to meet local needs:
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- Seasonal rural education
- Youth education
- Education and enforcement
- Public education events
- Business education
- Targeted campaigns
- Community resilience
- General education
Chapter 4 - Prevention
This chapter of the toolkit presents and discusses some of the actions that Fire and Rescue Services (and their partners) can take to stop outdoor fires occurring and to stop wildfires developing at high risk times of the year and in high risk locations.
The prevention activities presented within this chapter are designed to be used by Fire and Rescue Services, land managers, land owners and local communities and are presented under three headings:
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- Part 1 - Managing the risk
- Part 2 - Changing behaviours
- Part 3 - Intervention
Chapter 5 - Preparedness
Preparedness can be defined, simply, as the ‘state of being ready’. In the context of property fires and road traffic collisions (for example) and other day to day FRS operations, this is a fully recognised and understood concept. Training for this type of incident is carried out on a regular, even daily, basis, often in conjunction with emergency service partners. This training is backed up with detailed procedural documents and safety procedures.
This approach is not always adopted as rigorously in relation to outdoor fires, in particular wildfires. In addition, with regards to wildfire a wider concept of preparedness is required involving not only Fire and Rescue Services and emergency service partners but also the actual communities that are identified as being at risk. This chapter will therefore explore not only how fire and rescue services can prepare, but also how local partners and communities can be ready – with fire and rescue service support but not necessarily with day to day involvement.
This chapter is divided into three parts, each of which contains information and initiatives that can be used both individually and collectively as part of an overall wildfire prevention toolkit:
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- Part 1 - Fire and rescue services
- Part 2 - Preparation for partners
- Part 3 - Community preparedness
Chapter 6 - Glossary
A common understanding of terminology and definitions is essential in order to design and implement effective wildfire prevention activities. This chapter presents a list of terms and associated definitions that have been used throughout the toolkit.
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Chapter 7 - Credits, References and Supporting Materials
A number of individuals and organisations have supported the creation of this toolkit. This chapter acknowledges and thanks all of those who have provided assistance in reading through drafts and/or contributing resources and materials for inclusion within the toolkit.
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Supporting documents and resources
A number of documents have been created and compiled during the production of this toolkit. These documents are an important resource and should be used to provide a source of inspiration and guidance for development and implementation of wildfire prevention activities in the UK.
For ease of reference, the supporting documents are shown below and have been separated according to specific chapters. However, please note that some documents may be relevant to the activities described within other chapters of the toolkit.
Supporting document for Chapter 3 - Education
Supporting documents for Chapter 4 - Prevention
Supporting documents for Chapter 5 - Preparedness