WILDFIRES that raged across swathes of the Britain’s countryside during the summer were the least welcome aspect of the scorching weather in which the country basked.
Firefighters who tackled the blazes, including those close to Yorkshire on Saddleworth Moor, were little short of heroic in their tireless efforts to save the landscape, as well as protect properties.
So the firefighters’ warnings that the service faces a shortages of funds and equipment need to be heeded.
It is a measure of how tight fire service budgets are that in the midst of tackling the blazes, it was appealing to the public for donations of sun cream, insect repellent and even socks because they could not be afforded.
This is unacceptable. We expect much from the fire service, which responds expertly and fearlessly in the face of danger.
That courage and commitment must be recognised in the form of a level of Government funding that enables firefighters to do their job efficiently and safely.
Climate change makes it likely that summers will grow hotter, which means a greater incidence of wildfires. This is a long-term trend, and the fire service needs to be equipped accordingly if the countryside is not to be blighted and lives potentially be put in danger, including those of the firefighters themselves.
Hand-in-hand with this should go a drive to educate the public not to increase the risk of wildfires by risky behaviour such as lighting barbecues on tinder-dry moors.
But first and foremost, firefighters must have the resources they need.