We may not have had the wildfire problems seen by other countries, recently, but we still need to keep the profile of the wildfire threat high. We are only a few weeks away from a wildfire season, at any time of the year.
The Wildfires 2017 conference took place in Bournemouth on 7th and 8th November 2017. It was organised by Dorset and Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service, Dorset County Council, and the Urban Heaths Partnership, with support from the National Fire Protection Association in the USA, the National Fire Chiefs Council and the Scottish Wildfire Forum.
Over 150 delegates attended, and this included a good international mix from as far away as New Zealand and Canada. This international flavour added greatly to the conference and allowed us to benefit from the greater wildfire experience that exists in other parts of the world.
A key message coming from the conference is that, while the UK does not have regular wildfire seasons at present, climate change predictions indicate that this is likely to change. Therefore, we cannot ignore the threat of wildfire to people, property and the natural heritage, and this justifies the inclusion of wildfire on the National Risk Register.
The wildfires conference programme started in 2003, and from 2015 the conferences have been run by the UK wildfire forums. After a very successful conference, close to Glasgow in 2015, it was England's turn to take the lead and this resulted in the conference moving south to Bournemouth. Why Bournemouth? The Dorset & Wiltshire FRS has developed a very good wildfire response out of necessity; the Dorset heaths are close to the centres of population and this results in wildfire being a common occurrence. The FRS has to respond quickly due the risks associated with the proximity of a large population and much property.
A short booklet was produced from the workshops took place during the conference with a view to summarising the issues that were raised for discussion. This is available to download here.
In summary it was a great conference, well organised, interesting discussions, a very good range of speakers and delegates, and good food and accommodation.
The planning for Wildfires 2019 will be starting soon! It will be a hard act to follow.
|This is Portugal in 2017: it could not happen here ..... or could it?|