Michael Hazell

Firewise Communites Moves Forward in the UK

Blog Post created by Michael Hazell Employee on Aug 28, 2014

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Welcome to the second News Letter from Surrey Fire & Rescue Service. It has been especially busy over the last few weeks with Firewise meetings and presentations and other Wildfire related projects here in Surrey in the UK.

At the end of July, Area Commander Alan Clark and Watch Commander Dave Medley visited the Peak District In Derbyshire. Alan was a guest speaker at the MoorLIFE launch of their new project “Be Fire Aware” & Wildfire Awareness day, an exciting new prevention/ education initiative The visit was a great success with the chance to network with other Fire & Rescue Services and other agencies and to inform them of our work with regards producing a Fire Adapted Community here in the UK.

In the middle of August, a further meeting was held by Dave and Alan with the Thursley Parish Councillors who unanimously gave the go ahead for Thursley Village here in Surrey to become the first Firewise Community not only in Surrey but in the whole of the UK. Dave is now working closely with the councillors to identify the properties most at risk from wildfire in the village and surrounding areas. In October there will be an event in Thursley to promote the Firewise programme to the local residents and we are hoping to attract substantial media attention for the event. It goes without saying that it is the local communities ‘buy in’ that we need and – whilst early indications are good – we are taking nothing for granted!

Alan had a request from Cat Edgely, who is currently studying for a Masters at Durham University (focusing on identifying and communicating wildfire risk within Northumberland National Park), to be involved in the Firewise launch in Surrey / the UK. She attended the Thursley Firewise meeting and gathered a lot of information that she hopes will help her realise her dream to be offered a fully funded PhD at the University of Idaho in the States, looking at community resilience and wildfires. She is looking to compare and contrast the US and the UK's community approaches to Firewise and the lessons we can learn from its application in the UK. During her visit, Dave took her to the local fire stations to see the Wildfire appliances utilised at Wildfire incidents to help make her trip memorable.

Dave is also part of ongoing Wildfire Patrols here in Surrey where once a month he meets up with other agencies to carry out “High Viz” patrols in specific areas known for fire setting. These areas include Common Land, Forestry Commission and Crown Estates properties. These patrols are carried out jointly with the Heath land Conservation Society, Surrey Wildlife Trust, Crown Estates, Bracknell Forest Rangers and both Surrey and Thames Valley Police Forces. 4x4 vehicles are used during the patrols and engagement and educating the public about the threat of Wildfires plays a prominent role.

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Lastly – and most importantly - we are looking forward to a Firewise workshop in September with Shawn Stokes, in London, and hoping to confirm shortly an October visit by Michelle Steinberg to Surrey. We will be looking to make full use of Michelle’s time and expertise to help us develop further the Firewise materials for the UK and hope that the trip will provide her with the opportunity to deliver a presentation to the wider CFOA Wildfire group.

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