The South Wales Valleys offer some of the most intimate urban/rural interfaces in Europe. Towns and villages, built on the back of the coal mining industry, abut moorland and forest, much of the latter created by the Forestry Commission in the 1920’s and 30’s in response to a previous recession. Social pressures have led to a high incidence of deliberately set fires and it is therefore not surprising that this has led to innovative approaches to fire prevention and response. These are achieving results in some of the most challenging environments for fire and rescue services in Europe and are of significance to those with a professional interest in wildfire.
It is against this background that Wildfire 2013 will take place. Organised by Rural Development Initiatives, and in partnership with the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and Natural Resources Wales, Wildfire 2013 is the latest in the series of biennial national wildfire conferences which have become the definitive event for wildfire prevention and suppression. In addition to the plenary conference sessions, there are a series of workshops on a wide range of subjects, a themed field trip and an exhibition of related equipment and service providers. Because wildfire response is an area where fire and rescue services work in partnership with other agencies and land managers, many of whom firefighters might not otherwise come into contact with, the ability to mix with such people and to hear their experiences of wildfire is a feature previous conference delegates have valued highly.
The programme for Wildfire 2013 covers a range of topics from developing wildfire strategies to the management of controlled burns. Speakers will explore experiences from across the UK and further afield in order to take advantage of best practice from around the world. The emphasis will be on the practical i.e. skills that people can take away and use in their job, whether that is risk management, working with partners or managing a burn site. The workshops are arranged so delegates can choose subjects relevant to their own situation whilst benefiting from the overarching issues addressed through the plenary sessions. At the time of writing, the field trip is planned to visit the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service Control Room to follow a mock exercise and also a forest to study the impacts of wildfires and the response to them.
Graham Hillier of Natural Resources Wales said, “Wildfire 2013’s theme of partnership working is particularly relevant because dealing with this issue is in everyone’s interests.
“Wildfires cost the taxpayer millions of pounds every year and many of these fires are started deliberately. Apart from endangering the lives of our staff and other forest users, as well as wildlife and rare plants, wildfires can have a serious economic impact on communities because they blight vast areas of the countryside making them less attractive to local people and visitors.”
Wildfire 2013 takes place at the Vale Resort, South Glamorgan on 22nd and 23rd October. On the first day of Wildfire 2013 the same venue will host the Fire Times Regional Roadshow. The Vale Resort is one of the UK’s premier conference venues and offers unrivalled meeting, exhibition and leisure facilities. It is located 5 minutes off the M4, 10 minutes from the nearest railway station and approximately 30 minutes from Cardiff Airport.
For more information Rural Development Initiatives can be contacted either at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01765 609355.