Section 1 Foreword
The climate of Scotland, as with the rest of the UK, is changing. Over the last 100 years it has become warmer, precipitation patterns have changed, with drier summers and wetter autumns and winters. There is also evidence of an increase in the frequency of exceptionally heavy rainfall events. The effects of this changing pattern have already been evidenced throughout the UK by the direct impact on fire and rescue service operational responses to large scale wildfire incidents and widespread flooding, both of which could be attributed to the climate we experience. The fire and rescue service, and the public sector in general, plays a crucial role in the delivery of both the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.
Wildfires can have a devastating impact on internationally important moorland and blanket bog habitat, as well as forests and grasslands. Where peat is ignited, biodiversity can take centuries to recover and significant quantities of greenhouse gases can be produced thereby compounding the problem of climate change.
The fire and rescue service, along with other responding agencies, landowners and managers must work together in order to effectively respond to the change in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and the consequent impact to society.
Although within the UK the majority of people directly affected by extreme weather events are usually those impacted by flooding, the focus of this manual is wildfire. Fortunately in the UK , unlike areas of the United States and Australia, casualties as a result of wildfire incidents are rare. The greatest impact of wildfire in the UK is on the rural rather than urban community, due to damage to arable crops, livestock or the loss of woodland value.
This operational guidance document for wildfire incidents is the first to be published by the Scottish Government. It has been written to give fire and rescue service personnel an additional understanding and awareness of the phenomenon of wildfire. Examining the hazards, risks and controls relating to Fire and Rescue Service personnel, the personnel of other agencies and members of the public at Incidents of wildfire. Providing a point of reference for those who may be called upon to plan for wildfire events and for those incident commanders and personnel responding to such incidents. Thereby ensuring the development of a consistent approach to pre-planning, response and suppression practices enabling and supporting cross border mutual aid.
As with other guidance documents, this manual offers a starting point for Fire and Rescue Services to conduct their own assessments, produce their own operating procedures and written safe systems of work taking account of their own local circumstances.
The Scottish Government is grateful to all those who helped to produce this guidance.
Email: Dean Cowper