A multi-agency wildfire simulation exercise is to be held at a newly-constructed fire pond on the Linhope Estate, Breamish Valley in the Northumberland National Park this week.
The fire pond has been constructed with the support of Cheviot Futures to provide a water resource for high velocity pumps and helicopter buckets during wildfire incidents in the Cheviot Hills.
The simulation is one of the field events in a week-long international conference hosted by Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service on ‘good practice in wildfire suppression’ (media briefing attached) and will be attended by approximately 40 wildfire specialists from 11 countries. The simulation exercise is being organised in partnership with Northumberland National Park Authority, Linhope Estate, North of Tyne and Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Teams.
The Cheviot Futures programme is a co-operative approach by the National Park Authority and partners to help land managers adapt to predicted extreme weather events that experience has shown can detrimentally affect rural businesses and local economies.
Dry springs and summers have led to a number of wildfires across the heather moorland of the National Park in recent years. Unless properly managed 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 heather, game and wildlife that lives on them.
Jennifer Hewitson, Cheviot Futures Project Co-Ordinator, said: “Loss of livestock and even human life can also be a risk in these fast-moving conflagrations, or in equally fast and devastating floods. Taking timely steps to adapt to the impact of such extreme events, can make the difference between recovery and tragedy.”
Andrew Miller, Head of Partnerships and Programmes for the National Park Authority said: “The Fire and Rescue Service has been working with us and other key agencies, farmers and gamekeepers and this joint exercise will test some of the techniques we’ve developed together.”
Following on from the international conference, Cheviot futures is supporting an innovative series of wildfire training events, with NFRS, for the retained fire fighters surrounding the Cheviot project area in Rothbury, Wooler and Bellingham. These will give practical training to those retained fire fighters who are most likely to be on the scene of a real wildfire event, but they will also give land managers some extra people to help manage areas of difficult land. Times and dates will be published on the Cheviot Futures website shortly.
Funding for Phase 2 of Cheviot Futures has been made possible by securing the very first cross-border funding from New LEADER sources from both the Scottish and English Local Action Groups – Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group and the Scottish Border LEADER. The Environment Agency Local Levy Fund is the main funder for the Linhope Breamish Fire Pond.
For further information about the Fire and Rescue service conference, please contact Clare Grimes Tel: 01670 533407 Clare.Grimes01@northumberland.