Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) has launched its newest station hub specially to fight wildfires.
The hub is based at Haltwhistle fire station and gives crews better equipment and more specialist training to respond to wildfires.
So far, Northumberland has seen five wildfires this year alone, some of which have burned for several days. With the warm dry weather not too far away, it’s expected there will be more of these devasting fires.
Rob Stacey, Wildfire lead for the Service said: ‘We have several hubs around the county based close to sensitive landscapes that are classed as high risk. These areas require enhanced protection from wildfires and are valuable for a number of reasons. For example, the Northumberland countryside is full of important heritage sites, rare natural habitats, plants and species, and key infrastructure.
‘These hubs are especially important considering that climate change predictions indicate we will experience more frequent and larger wildfires in the future.
‘Although we train all our operational staff on how to deal with these fires, our crews working out of the wildfire hubs receive more specialist training which enhances our response capability.’
The Haltwhistle hub is one of four that covers the County – the other hubs are Bellingham, Wooler and Rothbury. All of the hubs are kitted out with specialist firefighting equipment provided by the Northumberland Fire Group.
Angus Collingwood-Cameron, Chair of the Northumberland Fire Group said: ‘The Fire Group has been delighted to support NFRS in the creation of this new wildfire hub.
‘It is very good news that NFRS now has specialist wildfire fighting skills and equipment available at short notice throughout the county. This will be of great benefit to landowners who manage our moorlands and woodlands which are at risk of devastating wildfire.’
Robert Mayhew, Head of Conservation and Environment at Northumberland National Park Authority said: ‘The Authority fully recognises the devastating impact that wildfires can have on the natural and cultural environment of the National Park and for those land managers that have helped shape the landscape that we all treasure today.
‘The Authority welcomes Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service’s investment in the wildfire hub at Haltwhistle fire station, as it is hoped that firefighting resources can be deployed more swiftly to incidents in the National Park and thus hopefully reduce the damage caused by wildfires.
‘As the risk of wildfires increases year on year on the back of the effects of climate change, the knowledge that firefighting staff will gain can also be shared with others to help reduce the risk of fires starting in the first place.’