Climate emergency - fire and rescue services

This report provides a basis for having local conversations about adaptation and mitigation, as well as providing comments and case studies from a range of organisations and programmes working on the issue.

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As we approached the end of the last decade the effects of extreme weather, including the devastating bushfires in Australia and the flooding experienced in the UK, demonstrated the potential disruption we face in a changing climate.

With 2019 seeing record high temperatures and announced as the second warmest year on record, it is clear that this is an issue that will only become more pressing as we move through the next decade.

As climate change continues the impact on the fire and rescue service (FRS) will become more pronounced. We have already seen that the weather can impact our work, in 2018 we saw a 28 per cent increase in secondary fires linked to the hot, dry summer, and the Whaley Bridge Dam, which started to collapse following days of heavy rain in summer 2019, led to a nationally supported and coordinated FRS response.

These events also have a clear cost to the climate. A 2018 wildfire in northern Scotland released into the atmosphere the equivalent of six days’ worth of Scotland’s total greenhouse gas emissions, burning for six days across 5,000 hectares.

The Government has committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It is clear that we all have a part to play if we are going to achieve this national target locally. The LGA has already declared a climate emergency following in the footsteps of a significant number of councils.

Find more local government climate change resources in our online hub.