SFRS and Scottish Wildfire Forum issue warning of increased wildfire risk
22 April 2016
Experts are raising awareness about the risk of wildfire over next few days due to conditions and urge the public to take extra care in rural environments.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and Scottish Wildfire Forum (SWF) are raising awareness about the increased risk of wildfire across the Southern Uplands and the South West of Scotland over the next few days as weather forecasters predict very dry conditions.
Vice chair of the Scottish Wildfire Forum, Michael Bruce, monitors the European Commission’s European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) which provides information which can be used to inform the public about the risk of wildfire.
He said “at the end of winter before plants start growing in the spring there is often a lot of dead vegetation from last year. This fuel can dry out quickly when there are bright sunny days and frosts overnight with low levels of humidity. We have a high pressure weather system dominating the UK creating these conditions at the moment.”
We are now well into that time of year when the risk of wildfire is at its highest and SFRS is already working closely with land managers and appealing to tourists and communities to help reduce the number fires in a bid to protect the countryside and its residents.
Yesterday SFRS crews tackled a wildfire which involved around a square mile of moorland near the village of Glespin in rural South Lanarkshire.
SFRS Deputy Assistant Chief Officer Andy Coueslant, the chair of the Scottish Wildfire Forum, said raising awareness is key to reducing the risk.
He explained: “Wildfire conditions have the potential to change markedly from day-to-day depending on the humidity and wind direction and it’s all-the-more important people are vigilant and act responsibly while this period of high pressure affects the country.
“Many rural and remote communities are hugely impacted by wildfires, which can cause significant environmental and economic damage.
“Livestock, farmland, wildlife, protected woodland and sites of special scientific interest can all be devastated by these fires, as can the lives of people living and working in rural communities.
“Human behaviour can significantly lower the chance of a wildfire starting so it’s crucial people act safely and responsibly in rural environments and follow the countryside code.”
The public can help prevent wildfires by making sure they dispose of litter and smoking materials carefully while in rural areas.
There are a number of things land managers can do to help prevent wildfires, including strict adherence to the Muirburn Code, which applies to the controlled burning of moorland within the permitted season. After 15 April no burning is allowed below 450m (1500 feet) and any burning above this level must be done with the landowners permission. Any land manager considering muirburn should contact SFRS.
For further advice and information about wildfires and what we can all do to prevent them visit our website www.firescotland.gov.uk
The SFRS website has a link to the Muirburn Code and there is more advice in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code