The Fire Brigades Union has warned of the urgent need for government action on tackling wildfires and other impacts of climate change.
It said a decade of budget cuts has left Fire and Rescue Services ‘stretched for resources’ while climate-related incidents have increased in frequency and severity.
Throughout the week, firefighters have battled a wildfire that started burning on Sunday afternoon near Cannich, south of Inverness, in the Scottish Highlands.
Around 7,400 hectares have burned so far, with images of the 22-mile-long plume of smoke captured from space.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Throughout this week, firefighters in Scotland have bravely battled what is now believed to be one of the biggest wildfires in UK history and which can be seen from space.
“Two of our members have already been injured working in these extreme conditions.
“Thankfully, both have now returned home. However, this shows us the real dangers of the climate emergency.”
The union warned that tackling wildfires requires a significant number of firefighters due to the extensive terrain, physically demanding work over long periods of time, and transporting equipment by hand while being exposed to significant temperatures.
It says budget cuts in the last decade have left firefighters without the proper equipment and resources to deal with climate-related incidents, while the frequency and severity of these events have increased.
The rising temperatures are a major factor in increasing the risk of wildfires, with parts of the UK seeing the mercury exceed 40C last July for the first time in recorded history.
Last week, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service announced further cuts that will see the loss of ten fire appliances, which the union says will result in reducing fire cover and impacting firefighters’ ability to respond to incidents.
Since 2010, 11,500 firefighters have been cut across the UK, and Scotland alone has lost 1,100 firefighters since 2013.
“Wildfires, such as the ones we are seeing in Cannich at the moment, are on the rise year on year,” explained Mr Wrack.
“All governments must heed this stark warning: the climate crisis is here now.
“We need urgent climate action to prevent loss of life, and that must also involve serious investment in our fire services.”