DCSIMG

New tools to tackle wildfires

From left to right: Keith Kelly, Wildfire Training Officer, Billy Davison, Wildfire Training Officer (at the back), Robert Stacey, Project Officer, Jennifer Hewitson farming and rural enterprise officer, Dr Anna Charlton, chairman of the independent panel for the sustainable development fund, and Alex Bennett, Chief Fire Officer. The Retained Fire Fighters pictured are, left to right, Ross Gray, Simon Irving and Paul Brown.

From left to right: Keith Kelly, Wildfire Training Officer, Billy Davison, Wildfire Training Officer (at the back), Robert Stacey, Project Officer, Jennifer Hewitson farming and rural enterprise officer, Dr Anna Charlton, chairman of the independent panel for the sustainable development fund, and Alex Bennett, Chief Fire Officer. The Retained Fire Fighters pictured are, left to right, Ross Gray, Simon Irving and Paul Brown.

Firefighters in Northumberland are getting to grips with some brand new equipment which will help them tackle wildfires.

The new equipment for Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service was funded by a sustainable development grant from the Northumberland National Park.

It will better prepare the fire service for the wildfire risks attached with the changing climate of longer, drier summers.

Firefighters will be well equipped and ready for wildfire threats with almost 60 pieces of new gear.

The equipment will be kept at the Wooler, Rothbury and Bellingham Fire Stations so it is on hand in case of emergencies within the Northumberland National Park.

This will also give fire crews at these stations training opportunities to try out this equipment.

The equipment includes 20 pulaskis, a tool resembling an axe, which chops through vegetation to head off the spread of wildfires.

The fire service will also receive 18 long-handled beaters. As their name suggests, they are used to beat out fire with the long handle keeping firefighters further away from the blaze. The latest beaters are made from lightweight metal instead of wood so firefighters can work for longer.

A minimum of 10 backpack sprayers will also be available, enabling firefighters to get water to remote areas where a fire engine could not reach.

Dr Anna Charlton, chairman of the independent panel for the sustainable development fund, said: “Dry springs and summers, like the long period of drought experienced last year, have led to a number of wildfires in the National Park in recent years.

“This new equipment will help protect the environment, local people, rural business and livestock.”

Chairman of the Fire and Rescue Service and Deputy Leader of Northumberland County Council, Coun Dave Ledger, said: “I would like to thank the Northumberland National Park for the equipment awarded by the sustainable development fund.

“The equipment could not have been received at a better time, with the cutbacks to the Northumberland County Council budget and since we are now coming up to wildfire season.

“I hope crews find the new equipment to be beneficial to them within wildfire situations but also for training and development purposes.”

Chief Fire Officer Alex Bennett said: “We welcome this grant from the Northumberland National Park and would like to thank them. The equipment provided by this money will be beneficial to our fire teams in tackling any future wildfires.

“Storing the equipment at the Rothbury, Wooler and Bellingham stations will also provide these fire teams with numerous opportunities for hands on training with the new equipment as equipment is normally stored at our central fire station.”

Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service are working in conjunction with the Northumberland National Park to reduce the risk of wildfires in the county.

Dry springs and summers have led to a number of wildfires across the heather moorland of the National Park in recent years.

During wildfires the peat soils, which have taken thousands of years to establish, can catch fire and burn down to the bedrock. They are irreplaceable, along with the forest, heather, game and wildlife that live on the moors.

Wildfires are also a significant risk to rural businesses, livestock and to the health and well-being of local populations nearby.

 

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