Representatives from the Firewise UK project in Dorset have shared tips on good practice with an audience from 14 countries around the world.

Paul Attwell and Lin Kettley, of the Dorset-based project, travelled to the International Wildfire Conference in Cardiff to impart their wisdom.

Firewise UK is a new initiative launched earlier this year, which works to help communities living close to areas at risk. It is based upon the global Firewise programme run by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in America.

The project is delivered in the local area by the Urban Heaths Partnership, which is comprised of 10 organisations including Dorset Council, Dorset Wildlife Trust, and Dorset Police.

Information is provided for residents living near heath and forest areas to help them reduce the risk to their homes and gardens by taking practical and inexpensive steps. The project also encourages communities to work together to develop strategies to safeguard their land.

Paul and Lin presented details of Firewise UK to more than 200 delegates at the two-day conference, which was hosted by South Wales Fire and Rescue Service on behalf of the England and Wales Wildfire Forum. Other presentations, delivered by organisations from across the world, focused on incidents and scientific causes of wildfires, case studies, and techniques for community engagement.

In Dorset, there is an average of 107 fires on heathlands and in forests every year, varying in size from campfires which become out of control to larger fires which damage many hectares of land. The risk from wildfires is likely to increase due to the effects of climate change, with numbers already increasing dramatically across other parts of the UK and Europe.

Wildfires can be caused by a variety of factors, including natural incidents such as lightning or spontaneous combustion. Unattended campfires and barbecues, careless littering and fireworks can also pose a risk, as can friction and sparks created from trains or other mechanical equipment, such as combine harvesters.

The Firewise project is currently funded until March 2020 thanks to support from the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in Dorset, and monies from developer contributions.

More information about the project is available at