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Wildfires can spread quickly, change direction without warning and pose a threat to life. They can also cause significant environmental and economic damage.

Wildfires are uncontrolled, extremely dangerous and burn on land with vegetation – for example moorland, heather, gorse, grass, forestry and natural woodland.

They often occur in remote and rural areas and so can seem less of a threat. But they can also affect areas with higher density population.

What can I do to help prevent the risk of wildfires?

The best protection against loss, damage or injury due to wildfire is prevention.

Consider your household plan and creating a safety zone around your property. You can find out more on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) website.

Here are some tips to keep you safe and reduce the risk of wildfire:

At home

  • If you burn leaves and debris, consider alternatives like composting.
  • Avoid lighting fires when high winds, high temperatures and low humidity are present or predicted, and check the SFRS website to see if any fire danger warnings are in place.
  • Always have a shovel available and connect your garden hose before you start the fire.
  • Where possible, use a stove for cooking rather than an open fire. If you do light an open fire, keep it small, controlled and supervised. Make sure the fire is fully extinguished when no longer required.
  • Don’t have BBQs on any flammable surface during very prolonged, dry weather. 
  • Never burn if the smoke and flames are blowing towards your home (or your neighbours).
  • Do not dispose of ashes until they are cold to the touch.
  • Store flammable materials in approved safety cans. Keep those safety cans in a fire-resistant metal or brick building or your garage.

Away from home

  • Only have a BBQ within safe designated BBQ areas.
  • Before lighting any outdoor fire, check if any restrictions are in place or if any permits are required.
  • Don’t have campfires or any outdoor fire when a fire danger warning is in place or during prolonged dry periods.
  • When you do light a fire, keep it small, controlled and supervised. Where possible, use a stove rather than an open fire.
  • Make sure the fire has been fully extinguished and remove all traces of an open fire before you leave the area.
  • Always fully extinguish and dispose of cigarettes responsibly. 

What should I do if I come across a wildfire?

If you see a fire, however small, call 999 immediately.

Give the SFRS control firefighters as much detail as possible. If you know the best access point, please let them know. If it is safe to do so, stand by the access point and speak to fire crews when they arrive.

You should only try to extinguish a fire if you have suitable means of extinguishing it and are confident that you are able to do so safely. Never put yourself in harm’s way.

More information

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) website contains information and safety advice to keep you, your home and family safe from wildfires.

SFRS works with key partners including land managers and communities, to establish a common understanding of the risks, prevention measures and response procedures. It has produced a wildfire strategy with partnership at its heart that not only provides a framework for wildfire response but also a strong platform for preventative work, with a joined-up approach to land management.

Human behaviour can also significantly reduce the chances of a wildfire occurring so it is crucial that people act safely and responsibly and follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, particularly in rural areas where there is an increased risk.


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