Wildfires: A Burning Issue

WA Management provides professional, adaptable and appropriate solutions for your Health and Safety needs. Each fortnight, our research blog takes a detailed look at particularly relevant areas of the sector, or risks that are repeatedly overlooked. In the sombre shadow of some of the worst wildfires in California’s history, this week we take a look at a growing natural problem. Are there any lessons we can apply to our daily Health and Safety protocols?

A Burning Issue: Wildfires in the modern age

              The carbon-rich nature of lifeforms means that for the 420 million years that there has been vegetation on Earth’s surface, there has also always been fire to destroy it. The sheer promethean scale and power of a wildfire continues to astound, bewilder and frighten. This has been sombrely brought into perspective over the past weeks; in which some of the most devastating fires have swept across swathes of California, leaving 84 dead and many more unaccounted for. But what are these forces of nature? And how are they tackled around the world?

Wildfires essentially occur when a spontaneous or deliberate source causes flammable material to ignite. The origins of these fires may include:

  • Natural: Lightening and volcanic eruptions can often cause arid or dry vegetation to ignite. Inevitably, but unfortunately, these forms of ignition a difficult to predict.
  • Accidental: A common cause of wildfires is accidental ignition by humans. Not undertaking good practice to cover open fires can leave dangerous embers and sparks.
  • Deliberate: The malicious act of arson also may cause fires to erupt.

The spread and severity of a wildfire rests on a myriad of other factors, which include: Aridity of the vegetation, lack of rainfall and wind direction.

Extinguishing the danger: How are Wildfires fought?

              Wildfires are tackled globally via a multitude of both rudimentary and technically astounding methods. These can be boiled down into two main facets: Prevention and Suppression – read our handy graphic below summarising them.

Lessons learned: What advice can be applied to domestic fire safety?

              That being said, wildfires are rarely a pressing concern for those living in the UK, so why the Research Blog? Here at WA Management, we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to improve our expertise and business strategy, and so looking to new examples can lend a different perspective.

Equally, as the searing heat of this summer has shown, fires can impact those across Europe. Localised wildfires in Sweden, Finland and Denmark this summer led to the enforcement of a national fire ban, attempting to limit the likelihood of an outbreak. Similarly, an unprecedented blaze broke out across Saddleworth Moor in Yorkshire in Late June, meaning the very responses outlined in this blog had to be put into action.

Careful scrutiny of events like wildfires can outline key areas for improvement in everyone’s day-to-day Health and Safety. As has been shown, diligent preparation for all eventualities can help to mitigate the risks before they even arise. Equally; an effective response from a coordinated team ensures that the best possible outcome is achieved.

         Whether it is tackling a blaze in California, or writing a Risk Assessment for Falls from Height, relying on the proven expertise of specialists is crucial to success.

If you have any concerns about how you might respond to unpredictable hazards, contact us HERE today.

This Blog is dedicated to the unwavering self-sacrifice being shown by those tackling the current wildfires in California, and to all who brave the heat to keep us safe.

Read more on the ongoing Californian Fires HERE

And read governmental advice on fire prevention HERE