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Fire chiefs urge UK cities to prepare for wildfires

The National Fire Chiefs Council has warned UK cities they need to prepare for wildfires after “unprecedented” fires across the capital during record breaking temperatures last week (Alan Johnson/Twitter/PA)
The National Fire Chiefs Council has warned UK cities they need to prepare for wildfires after “unprecedented” fires across the capital during record breaking temperatures last week (Alan Johnson/Twitter/PA)

The National Fire Chiefs Council has warned UK cities they need to prepare for wildfires after dozens of “unprecedented” blazes broke out during last week’s record breaking temperatures.

In a statement carried by the BBC, National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) tactical advisor David Swallow said “services need to recognise the risk they’ve now got”.

“If they don’t, then they’re naive,” he added.

“There are very urban services that think that wildfires are low down on the risk list. I understand the need to prioritise resources, but there needs to be a review.”

London Fire Brigade assistant commissioner Jonathan Smith told the broadcaster the service had already been preparing for an expected increased risk, but added that risk was now “immediate”.

The head of London Fire Brigade Andy Roe said fires in the capital last week were unprecedented: “I saw stuff this week that I had not expected to see as a London firefighter.”

The fire service saw its busiest day since the Second World War as a result of the extreme temperatures, with crews attending 1,146 incidents in a single day.

Asked about the experience of the capital’s fire services over the course of the week, Mr Roe told the PA news agency: “I think the word I’d use is unprecedented.

“I’ve had a long operational career at some of the most significant incidents that London has seen in the past couple of decades but even with all that experience I saw stuff this week that I had not expected to see as a London firefighter.”

A total of 16 homes were lost in the large fire in Wennington, east London, and fire crews had to fight to save the fire station itself, located nearby, from the flames.