“We need urgent climate action to prevent loss of life, and that must also involve serious investment in our fire services.”Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary
By the Fire Brigades Union (FBU)
This week, firefighters have battled a wildfire that started burning on Sunday afternoon near Cannich, south of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. 7,400 hectares have burned so far, with images of the 22-mile long plume of smoke captured by NASA from space.
Two firefighters injured tackling the blaze have since been released from hospital.
Wildfires require a significant number of firefighters to respond due to the extensive terrain, physically demanding work over long periods of time, transporting equipment by hand while being exposed to significant temperatures.
A decade of budget cuts has left Fire and Rescue Services stretched for resources while climate related incidents have increased in frequency and severity. July 2022 saw the temperature in parts of the UK exceed 40 degrees centigrade for the first time in recorded history, increasing the risk of wildfires.
Last week the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service announced further cuts on top of a decade of austerity. These cuts will see the loss of ten fire appliances, reducing fire cover and impacting firefighters’ ability to respond to incidents.
Since 2010, 11,500 firefighters have been cut across the UK, and Scotland alone has lost 1,100 firefighters since 2013.
Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary said:
“Throughout this week, firefighters in Scotland have bravely battled what is now believed to be one of the biggest wildfires in UK history and which can be seen from space.
Two of our members have already been injured working in these extreme conditions. Thankfully both have now returned home. However, this shows us the real dangers of the climate emergency.”
Wildfires, such as the ones we are seeing in Cannich at the moment, are on the rise year on year. All governments must heed this stark warning: the climate crisis is here now.”
We need urgent climate action to prevent loss of life, and that must also involve serious investment in our fire services.”