GMFRS Fire Wildfire

Burns team go live as crews take part in wildfire exercises

WITH warmer months on the horizon, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) have been taking part in specialist training on wildfires and burns.

The Wildfire Burns Suppression Team, also known as the Burns team, is now live after completing training in Catalonia with the Catalonian Fire and Rescue Service (Bombers) GRAF team. They are wildfire specialist teams and world experts in using fire as a tool to manage vegetation - called prescribed burning - and conducting tactical burns to create fire breaks - in essence, fighting fire with fire.

Led by Station Manager Ady Taylor, the first half of the specialist team carried out their training in October 2022, with the remaining members completing their training last month (March 2023).

Ady, wildfire lead for GMFRS and National Wildfire Tactical Advisor for the National Fire Chief’s Council, said:

"The conditions over in Catalonia are ideal to prepare us for dealing with dry moorland here in the warmer months.

"We have seen the devastation moorland fires can cause all too well across our city-region and they are incredibly costly to deal with, taking up a lot of resources, causing damage to the environment and disruption to our communities

"Though the beautiful scenery may seem a lovely backdrop for a BBQ in the sunshine, the consequences can be devastating. Please be considerate."

The work forms a key part of the GMFRS Annual Delivery Plan 2022-24, as a project to enhance the Service's capability to respond to wildfires through the introduction of this new team and new all-terrain vehicles. 

Last week crews from Mossley, Ashton, Stalybridge, and Hyde community fire stations took part in an exercise on Saddleworth Moor, alongside our partners at the RSPB and United Utilities, to test joint working in a controlled environment and to improve understanding of each other’s capabilities.

A GMFRS all-terrain vehicle drives across moorland

Crews got the chance to run a full wildfire attack with all the resources available to ensure familiarity and confidence in the procedures and tactics.

New communication methods were also tested with the command support unit from different locations around the site.

Station Manager Martin Cain, who lead the wildfire training, said:

"The terrain of Saddleworth presents a great opportunity for us to bring together our new skills and equipment so that we can be prepared for the warmer weather and should we get the call to deal with a moorland fire.

"Protecting such a diverse region as Greater Manchester means we need skills in tackling fires in high-rise city centre apartment blocks just as much as large, undulating moorland."

With the Bank Holiday weekend looking to see sunnier and warmer days, GMFRS asks for everyone’s support to reduce the risk of deadly and devastation moorland fires, and to ‘Be Moore Aware’. BBQs, fireworks and fires should not be used on moorland, and the consequences of starting such a fire can include facing a fine or even prison.

For more information on how to enjoy the moorland safely and responsibly please visit - Be Moor Aware - Greater Manchester Fire Rescue Service.

06/04/2023 15:57 PM