Wildfires are very dangerous, spreading fast, changing direction, jumping to other areas potentially threatening life. If you see a fire, however small, call 999 immediately.
Be prepared for wildfires that can threaten your home
It may seem like a remote possibility, but it pays to be prepared. Here a some simple tips for keeping you, your home and your family safe from wildfires.
- Do you and your family have a plan for your safety in the event of a wildfire?
- Do all family members know what to do and where to assemble in the event of a wildfire, including rounding-up and caring for pets?
- Have you discussed an escape plan with your neighbours?
- Have you talked to your children about not starting fires or playing with matches?
Create a safety zone
The best protection against loss, damage or injury due to wildfire is prevention. One of the most important things you can do to protect your home is to create a safety zone around it, extending out for at least 10 metres in all directions. A safety zone, is a well planned, well maintained area that is as free as possible of combustible materials that could support the spread of a wildfire. It doesn’t mean you need to strip the land of any vegetation and cover it in concrete. This leaflet has a few easy and common sense suggestions.
Properly preparing your home and community does not guarantee that you will not incur fire damage, but it does reduce the risks.
Any kind of vegetation will burn. Mature trees, shrubs, grass, even your woodpile are all potential fuels and can easily ignite (increasing the chance of building ignition and loss). Managing the space around your house and buildings is of prime importance.
Clean-up the safety zone
- Remove old cars, wood piles, felled trees and other debris.
- Is there enough space for firefighters to protect the rear of your home? Remove obstructing debris and trees and make sure fences have easily accessible gates.
- Keep the lawn mowed short (75mm or less) on all sides of all buildings. A short, green lawn will not carry fire.
- Clear a 3 metre space around any fuel tanks. Keep this space in gravel, rock or short mown grass.
- Make sure you have smoke detectors on each floor of your home and check them each week to make sure they work.
- Are any branches close to power lines on your property? Ask the power company for advice.
Fire and other hazards
- If you burn leaves and debris, consider alternatives like composting.
- Before lighting any outdoor fire, check for any restrictions or if any permits are required.
- Avoid lighting fires when high winds, high temperatures and low humidity are present or predicted.
- Always have a shovel available and connect your garden hose before you start the fire.
- Make sure recreational fires are made in a fire-safe pit or container and completely extinguished before leaving.
- Never burn if the smoke and flames are blowing towards your home (or your neighbour’s home).
- Do not dispose of ashes until they are cold to the touch.
- Store flammable materials in approved safety cans. Keep those safety cans in a fire-resistant metal or brick building or your garage.
Access for our fire crews
- Give our fire control room staff as much detail as possible. If you know the best access point, please let them know. If it is safe to do so, stand by the access point and speak to fire crews when they arrive.
- Access to your home starts with signage. It affects how easily emergency services can reach and protect your home.
- Emergency vehicles will not easily find your home if your number or name is not visible from the road.
- In mid-summer, when the vegetation is fully leaved, go to the road and see if you can read your number. If you cannot you may need to move the sign or make it bigger. Remember that at times smoke or darkness may make it harder to see your details.
For further information download our Wildfires Leaflet
Work is ongoing in the implementation stage to deliver a new strategy for developing and enhancing the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's wildfire capability.
Led by Area Commander Bruce Farquharson, the SFRS Scottish Wildfire Lead, the new strategy considers the increased risk of wildfire and changing climate in Scotland; the latest developments in wildfire management, training and operational procedures; and the advances in technology that have been made in PPE and equipment.
This also will see the implementation of a tiered classification of fire stations, and the introduction of new specialist equipment and PPE for wildfire response. This tiered approach includes first responders (tier 1) augmented by strategically located specialist teams (proposed 15 tier 2 stations; and 10 tier 3 stations), and finally a cadre of tactical advisors (tier 4).
Read more about our Wildlife Strategy