The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has set out how it is working to protect communities from new risks linked to climate change as it prepares to help support a safe COP26.
The major event, which is taking place in Glasgow between 31 October and 12 November, is expected to be attended by dozens of world leaders to discuss climate change action.
Assistant Chief Officer Stuart Stevens says firefighters are increasingly responding to severe weather-related incidents such as wildfires and flooding – and outlined steps being taken to ensure communities are protected.
ACO Stevens, who is the SFRS Director of Service Delivery, said: ‘Scotland will not be shielded from the impacts of climate change so we must adapt to meet the predicted rise in weather extremes in the years to come.
‘We are in the process of introducing a National Wildfire Strategy, which considers the latest developments in wildfire management, training and operational procedures, as well as advances in PPE and equipment technologies.
‘The strategy will help reduce the impact of wildfires on our local communities and the environment.
‘Increased flooding risks will also place greater demand on our rescue boats and supporting equipment.
‘We have 66 flood response stations strategically placed around Scotland and the Service has this year bolstered its water rescue capabilities with 20 new boats positioned throughout the country.
‘It is imperative that our firefighters are trained and equipped to respond safely and effectively to assist communities when required.’
SFRS has pledged to reduce its own carbon footprint and has set out a climate change response plan which aims to reduce emissions by 6% each year until 2030. The goal is to be carbon neutral by 2045.
During the climate change conference, firefighters will be based at the main COP26 event sites adjacent to the SEC and Glasgow Science Centre.
Trained water rescue teams will also be on the River Clyde, near to the event, with rope rescue and other specialist crews available if required.
The Service has also been participating in a number of multi-agency testing and exercising events with key delivery partners.
Prevention and Protection teams have been working closely with the hospitality sector to ensure fire safety measures are in place including at hotels.
Those planning to rent a room or property are being reminded that they must comply with the law to keep guests safe from fire.
Meanwhile, plans are in place to ensure firefighters can continue to respond to emergencies including on the Service’s traditionally busiest night of the year, 5 November.
ACO Stevens said: ‘COP26 is a major summit and this will be an extraordinary occasion for Scotland so it is vital that we work with partners, the business and hospitality sectors and communities to keep people safe.
‘We also recognise that Bonfire Night coincides with COP26, but we have been planning and preparing for some time now and we have robust measures in place to ensure we can continue to respond to emergencies.
‘There is no doubt that we welcome the continuing support of our communities – by following all available safety guidance from ourselves and our partners, they can help reduce the risk of harm wherever possible.’
He added: ‘We want those who have guests sleeping on their premises to carefully consider the fire safety arrangements and measures that need to be put in place. These standards apply at all times – not just for COP26.
‘Guests will be in a new environment so it’s important to safeguard them by having adequate fire detection in place and ensuring they are aware of their emergency escape plan.’
SFRS has launched a one-stop-shop for all safety advice which can be found here SFRS website alongside information on SFRS Carbon Management Projects.