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UK to set up new specialist wildfire units amidst increasing wildfires

As climate change raises the risk of wildfires, the UK is planning to expand the number of specialist teams trained to manage them.

Wildfires, which typically start in the hot and dry conditions of summer (sometimes due to something as small as a spark from a train wheel), have become increasingly common in the British countryside due to the influence of climate change.

There were thousands of wildfires last year alone – with one such destroying homes in Wennington, London. This year, there have already been hundreds of wildfires, including one in Cannich, Scotland, which started on May 27, and according to reports, had continued until June 7.

All of this learning from international partners … is a very sensible way of trying to get us ahead of the curve

–Paul Hedley, Chief Fire Officer

As such, fire chiefs are attempting to increase the number of specialist teams trained in “burn suppression” techniques, which involve the controlled burning of surrounding land to control a wildfire’s spread.

Currently, only five units out of more than 50 fire and rescue services specialise in these techniques – and these units are mostly based in rural moorland areas. The fire chiefs are aiming to produce more units specializing in these techniques, both in urban and rural areas.

Chief Fire Officer Paul Hedley, wildlife lead for the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), commented that the risk of major wildfires was “clearly growing”, saying that “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”.


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