Fringe Box



Surrey Fire and Rescue Service Urges Us All To Be ‘Wildfire Aware’

Published on: 22 Apr, 2024
Updated on: 24 Apr, 2024

“Wildfires,” such as this one at Thursley in 2020, “are a threat to homes, businesses, and precious habitats…” Photo Surrey Fire & Rescue

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service are urging residents across the county to be “Wildfire Aware” this season, after fires almost doubled between 2022-2023.

As part of its wildfire prevention campaign this year, the service is encouraging everyone to take steps in preventing wildfires to protect homes, businesses and habitats, by binning BBQS and taking litter home.

Between 2022-2023, the service dealt with 553 wildfires in Surrey and their appliances spent over 13,000 hours attending wildfire incidents in the last year alone.

Wetter winters and drier summers mean they’re becoming more of a risk. They are common in places like Surrey because of large parts of heathland near urban areas.

This aerial shot shows how wildfires can spread damaging sensitive habitats. Photo Surrey Fire & Rescue

The Fire and Rescue Service’s wildfire awareness and prevention work is a collaborative effort between different teams and partners. In preparation for the season and to help prevent and tackle these types of fires, teams have taken part in extra training to refresh and enhance wildfire capabilities and expertise, as well as introducing five new state-of-the-art drones into the service.

Crews were recently joined by 100 residents during their “Wildfire Awareness Week” activities in April with partners, with more events planned this summer to raise awareness.

SFRS use drones to monitor wildfires and help plan their firefighting.

Rural Affairs Officer, Marli Holland said: “Wildfires are a threat to homes, businesses, and precious habitats, and it takes years for the land to recover. As part of our work to prevent and tackle wildfires, we’ve been spreading the word with partners, and encouraging everyone in our communities to take steps to reduce the risk of wildfires.

“Wildfires are easy to start, and spread very quickly, often through BBQs not being extinguished properly, litter left on commons or heaths, or cigarettes being thrown out of cars or left on the ground.”

Fire Investigation Officer, Matt Oakley explained why heavy winter rainfall can risk more wildfires when summer arrives: “The vast amount of winter rain we’ve had provides moistures for perfect spring growing conditions. This means when a period of warm spring weather arrives we will have an abundance of vegetation which acts as fuel for wildfires.

“It’s very much an issue that’s here to stay, and we can assure residents we’re fully equipped and prepared to deal with these types of incidents very effectively.”

To have a safe summer and enjoy Surrey’s beauty spots, here is Surrey Fire and Rescue Services’ advice to help prevent wildfires:

  • Avoid having camping stoves or open fires in the countryside. They can quickly spread and get out of control. Switch your BBQ to a picnic.
  • Dispose of smoking materials properly. Throwing cigarette ends on the ground or out of a car window can start a wildfire.
  • Put your rubbish in the bin or take it home with you. Bottles and glass can start wildfire as they magnify the sun.
  • Be prepared at home by cutting down or clearing areas of high fuel close to your home (vegetation, bushes or piles of leaves). Be aware that dense areas of vegetation, hedges, timber fences or sheds, and dry undergrowth will allow a fire to spread from an open space to your home or business.

If you spot a fire out in the open, don’t attempt to tackle it yourself, leave the area and please call 999. For more information, please visit: Wildfire – Surrey County Council (

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