Published: 06/03/2014 04:00 - Updated: 05/03/2014 16:36

New drive to tackle wildfire menace in Highlands

Written byLaurence Ford

Wildfires can have a devastating impact.
Wildfires can have a devastating impact.

A NEW multi-agency drive to combat wildfires across the country is being spearheaded by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

SFRS assistant chief officer Robert Scott is chairman of the Scottish Wildfire Forum (SWFF) and has reformed and re-energised it, ensuring a wide range of partners are involved and empowered.

ACO Scott, the director of service delivery for the north, the area mostly affected by wildfires, has appointed a full-time supremo, group manager Garry Burnett, who will be responsible for looking into all aspects of wildfire management.

Mr Scott hopes this new approach to wildfire management will raise awareness, encourage public responsibility, improve firefighter safety and reduce demand on SFRS resources during wildfire season.

Last year the SWFF launched the UK’s only Wildfire Operational Guidance Manual, which was commissioned by the Scottish Government.

Mr Scott said: "In addition to the launch of the guidance manual we have committed significant resources to training a number of senior officers to an advanced level to ensure we have subject matter experts available across the country to attend and control wildfire incidents.

"We have trained over 100 supervisory managers based in fire stations most likely to attend these types of incidents to ensure they do so safely and to maximum effect."

The SWFF has also formed a working group made up of senior fire officers.

ACO Scott added: "We want to ensure they consider all aspects of wildfire management from prevention, to training, to fire tactics and that we do so across the entire country."

Group manager Burnett said: "I am very much looking forward to managing the wildfire project and effectively supporting the ACO to deliver national wildfire objectives and improvements.

"I am keen to strengthen relationships with key stakeholders to firstly deliver preventative measures implemented to reduce the impact of extensive wildfire both financially and environmentally. I am also highly focused to ensure improved development of our firefighters and incident managers benefiting firefighter safety when tackling wildfire.

"The full implementation of the Scottish Government’s operational guidance will be key to delivering that improved operational response."

The SWFF has been forming partnerships with colleagues in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure members can share experiences, tactics and training opportunities.

Drew McFarlane-Slack, Highland Regional manager for Scottish Land and Estates, said: "We value the opportunity to work in partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

"Together we can pool our resources and experience in a bid to reduce the number of wildfires in Scotland, which have a damaging effect on our environment and communities."

Information on wildfires is available on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service website www.firescotland.gov.uk

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