The increasing incidence, extent and severity of uncontrolled burning globally, together with its many adverse consequences, has brought fire into the international environmental policy arena, with growing calls for international action leading to greater control of burning, especially in tropical countries. Despite this concern, there is a paucity of accurate and timely information on the numbers of fires, area burned and phytomass consumed annually at national, regional and global scales, and on the social, economic and environmental costs. Given that fire is also an important natural process in many ecosystems, and that people have traditionally used fire for millennia as a land-management tool, the challenge is to develop informed policy that recognizes both the beneficial and traditional roles of fire, while reducing the incidence and extent of uncontrolled burning and its adverse impacts. This paper aims to highlight the recent changes of fire regimes at global level. Supported by members of the Working Group on Wildland Fire of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN-ISDR), Inter-Agency Task Force for Disaster Reduction, this paper intends to create awareness among the fire science community and those who need to apply the fundamental knowledge of fire science, the fire managers and policy makers.