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Wildfires: a complex scenario on the rise

Event organised by Hazards Forum

12 September 2023

This event has now ended


Wildfire is a complex scenario with many interlinking factors, including human behavior and environmental factors. It can be considered a ‘semi-natural hazard’ where the conditions necessary for a fire to become established are largely environmentally determined, but the initial spark is often the result of inadvertent or deliberate human action.

Fire services anticipate that the frequency and intensity of wildfires are likely to increase given the predictions for climate change in the UK. They report an upwards trend in recent years and more frequent spells of intense wildfire activity such as in 2018. Responding to wildfires during a period of prolonged drought can be very challenging further compounding problems such as access and the extent of the fire.

This Hazards Forum event brings together expert speakers from a variety of diverse fields which will be key in considering these challenges.

Organised by

The Hazards Forum

The Hazards Forum

The Hf provides a focus for the study of natural and man-made disasters, dissemination of lessons learned and promotion of risk reduction strategies.


18:00 - 18:05

Welcome and introductions - Alex Caroll, chair

18:05 - 18:25

Wildfires: the cascading risks for industry – Megan Pearce, consultant in sustainability and environmental assurance, Frazer-Nash

18:25 - 18:45

Protecting communities and the environment from wildfires: past, present and the way forward – Professor Guillermo Rein, professor of fire science, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College London

18:45 - 19:05

UK Fire and Rescue Service response to the increasing risk of wildfires – Rob Stacey, wildfire team leader and project officer, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service

19:05 - 20:00

Questions and answers


Megan Pearce

Megan Pearce


consultant in sustainability and environmental assurance

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Megan Pearce

Megan Pearce is a consultant in the Sustainability and Environmental Assurance team at Frazer-Nash. Megan’s expertise is in climate risk and resilience, underpinned by a background in science and consultancy in the private and public sector. She has supported organisations in the energy, water, transport, infrastructure, nuclear and heritage industries to understand the risks associated with physical hazards, and how these may change in future scenarios.

Rob Stacey

Rob Stacey

Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service

Wildfire Team Leader and Project Officer

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Rob Stacey

Rob joined NFRS in 2007 and shortly afterwards completed his PhD in Geography at Swansea University. Rob has been working on wildfire activities within Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) since 2009 and is currently responsible for managing the service’s wildfire capability and coordinating the Service’s wildfire training development and delivery. He also coordinates a range of other wildfire projects.

In his role as a National Wildfire Tactical Advisor (NWTA) and NFRS Wildfire Support Officer, Rob attends large wildfire incidents to provide specialist tactical advice to Incident Commanders and their teams. Rob also currently leads on the development and delivery of the initial training for all NWTAs and is one of the wildfire training leads within the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) Wildfire Group.

Professor Guillermo Rein

Professor Guillermo Rein

Imperial College London

Department of Mechanical Engineering

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Professor Guillermo Rein

Guillermo is professor of fire science at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of Imperial College London and editor-in-chief of the journal Fire Technology. He is a Fellow of the Combustion Institute.

Guillermo studied Mechanical Engineering at University of California Berkeley (MSc 2003, PhD 2005), and before then at ICAI Universidad Pontificia de Comillas (Ingeniero Industrial, MEng1999). He joined Imperial College in 2012 from a previous academic position at the University of Edinburgh (2006-2012).

His research is centred on heat transfer and fire, using experiments and computer models. The purpose of his work is to reduce the worldwide burden of accidental fires and protect people, their property, and the environment. His research portfolio is ample and includes how wildfires spread and how to fight them.

He created and leads the research group Imperial Hazelab where he has supervised 16 postdocs and graduated 24 PhD students, 11 of whom have become academics. The group is funded by a wide range of international sponsors, most notably Arup, EPSRC, NIST, EU Horizon and European Research Council. 

Guillermo's work has been recognised internationally with a number of scientific awards like the 2020 Research Excellence Award from the Combustion Institute, the 2018 SFPE Guise Medal from the Society of Fire Engineers, or the 2016 Early Career Award for Excellence from the International Association of Wildland Fires.

For more information please contact:

Fiona Oteng