The UK Climate Projections 2018 indicated that weather conducive to wildfire ignition will increase and the wildfire season will extend, with the potential for warmer and wetter winters increasing the fuel load and with longer and drier summers increasing the risk of fire. It has also been suggested that summers could become more hazardous than spring for wildfire by the end of the century.
As a Service we are always looking ahead and planning for the longer term. Climate change models are being considered so that we can determine community and environmental impact, ensuring that we have the right resources in place at the right time, whilst maintaining firefighter safety when attending wildfire incidents. We are also involved in working with land managers such as graziers, farmers, foresters and our National Parks to look at managing vegetation and making arrangements to prevent the spread and severity of wildfires. This is arranged and carried out with a collaborative approach so that we can improve biodiversity, maintain safety and help our countryside flourish for future generations to come.
In terms of wildfires, we are seeing a gradual reduction year on year with fluctuations dependent on weather and external factors such as changes in grazing levels etc. Wildfires are assessed by the Officer-in-charge when attending incidents to ascertain the most likely cause – this is generally due to anti-social behaviour or uncontrolled burning (whether intentional or accidental). One thing that we can say is that the vast majority of these fires are caused by people in one way or another. We believe that ignitions due to natural factors such as lightning strikes are few and far between. This means that Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service maintain our commitment to engage with all our communities to highlight the impact of wildfires whether it be through schools and youth services or via agricultural communities and organisations where we prioritise ‘working together’.
Richie Vaughan-Williams, Arson Reduction Manager said: ‘Collaborative and Partnership working is proving to be very effective, and we are seeing some positive outcomes and a significant reduction in larger fires across Wales this year. However, wildfires are still high on the agenda as should climate predictions come to fruition, we will change our approach to tackling wildfires as they may pose a different risk – we have already started planning for this in preparation.’
For more information on how you can keep your community safe, reduce the risk of wildfires or accidental fires, please go to www.mawwfire.gov.uk/eng/newsroom/current-campaigns-and-consultations/dawnsglaw