Wildfire Awareness and Preparedness in UK Communities

Emily Roach Osborne and Richard Hood detail the increasing need for Wildfire awareness in the UK and what we can be doing in our communities to prepare ourselves.

What are wildfires and do they affect me and my community?

Wildfires are unplanned fires that burn in natural areas like forests, grasslands or fields. These dangerous fires spread quickly and can devastate not only wildlife and natural areas but also communities.

As well as the negative effect on wildlife habitats, farming and risk to life, wildfires can burn valuable carbon stores (trees and peatland), releasing greenhouse gases back into the atmosphere. The damage to peatland is of particular environmental concern given the long timeframes it takes to recover.

Humans cause almost 9 out of 10 (90%) wildfires – usually accidentally – by people who don’t realise just how easy it is for everyday burning and use of flames such as campfires, cigarettes and BBQs to develop into something bigger and devastating, especially when combined with more extreme, dry weather.

In the UK the perception is that wildfires happen elsewhere in the world, but they are rising in frequency and intensity here and are increasingly connected to drought and extreme weather. The Met Office climate projections for the UK indicate significant temperature rises and extreme weather in the decades ahead for both winter and summer, leading to the potential of more frequent and damaging wildfires.

Wildfire Prep Day 6th May 2023 – What can we do?

There is a growing pool of resources available to support communities in preventing, preparing for, and managing wildfires. This coming Saturday 6th May is National Community Wildfire Preparedness Day in the USA and Canada and will feature lots of information-sharing on social media on how to protect local communities from wildfire and reduce its impact.

Although not yet a recognised UK event, we have compiled a short guide of small steps we can take this prep-day to reduce the risk of wildfire in our local communities here in the UK.

Three steps to take this Wildfire Prep-day weekend.

  1. Check
  2. Clear
  3. Communicate

Whether it’s clearing away dead vegetation in your garden or around your community or replacing wood chips with gravel, the small steps we make can really matter. Be ready to make a difference in helping to avoid the impact of Wildfire.


Check evacuation routes in your house, as well as your fire alarms. Move combustible items away from your home such as rubbish and woodpiles and if you can, document a list of your belongings and try and make sure they are insured (particularly any high value items). Make sure anyone elderly or vulnerable has their details and address available by their phone to read to emergency responders should an emergency arise.


If you live in areas more prone to wildfire, including those around nature and woodland, make sure any dead vegetation is cleared away from buildings, gardens and decking, as well as any rubbish. Remove gas tanks from the home and store them away from the house (if relevant). Prune any trees on your property annually and consider replacing wood chips with gravel or a less flammable alternative.


If you live in an area prone to wildfire, its valuable to create a communication plan for your household and have an emergency kit ready as well as ideally three different, drilled evacuation routes. It is also important to share and discuss any information and planning with your local community, so it could be useful to include wildfire preparedness in your Community Emergency Plan. There are links to further information below to share with your networks and follow the hashtag #WildfirePrepDay2023 this coming weekend to follow the conversation on social media.

Wildfire Volunteer Training with Communities Prepared – How can I get involved?

In recognition of this increasing emergency risk, we are developing a Wildfire Volunteer course to introduce people to how wildfires start and spread and what can be practically done in our communities to minimise the risk, respond to, and limit the impact of them.

The Wildfire Volunteer course will be launched in an online session on Tuesday 6th June from 6-7pm in which we will present the course and answer any questions you have in a discussion session.  The course will also include a self-led module in our online learning space with more detailed information to support your understanding of wildfire.

As with all the learning we offer, this course will be completely free to access on our website and will be useful to anyone at risk of wildfires, concerned by them or part of a community emergency volunteer group and looking to deepen their understanding of climate-related emergency management.

Register as a member with us

As part of registering for the online session you will be prompted to register as a member with us which will give you access to our entire learning space, our members forum and other courses we offer. Registration is quick and free, and helps us gauge how many people our training and support is reaching as we evaluate the project. Your data will not be shared anywhere else, you will never be asked for your payment details, and you will only be signed up to our monthly newsletter as part of this process (you can unsubscribe at any time).

If this is of interest to you, we look forward to seeing you on Tuesday 6th June!

If you have any questions regarding this, please do not hesitate to contact us at communitiesprepared@groundwork.org.uk

Register for our Wildfire Course Launch on Tuesday 6th June 6-7pm

Register as a member and become part of our community

Further Information on Wildfire

Below are a list of further resources and organisations to follow for more information and updates on wildfire understanding and resilience.

The British Red Cross – How to Prevent Wildfires and Stay Safe

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue – Firewise

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service – Wildfire Prevention and the Outdoors

North Yorkshire Police – Wildfire Prevention Page

Lancashire Fire and Rescue – Wildfire Safety Advice

VCS Emergencies Partnership – How Extreme Weather is Impacting Communities

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