Fire training day

On Tuesday the Peak District National Park held a fire training day at Barbrook Reservoir. This was mainly intended for the full-time Rangers who tend to deal with most of the fires, although there were a couple of part-time staff there as well, including me. Last Easter we had a series of devastating fires across the Peak District, so the fire training is an important part of preparing for the worst.

Because of the nesting season, the training inevitably has to be held early on in the year, so the weather conditions can be somewhat unrealistic ;-) Tuesday was no exception, it rained though a good part of the exercise.

We were split up into three teams, and each team had to get the appropriate gear out of one of the fire trailers, lay a hose line up to a portable dam (water holder) on the moor and pump water up to it from the reservoir. We than had to use a smaller pump to spray water at a designated target on the moor before emptying everything out, carrying it all off the moor again and packing it all back into the fire trailers.

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The fire equipment is stored ready-loaded on trailers at locations throughout the National Park to reduce the time it takes to respond to incidents. Here is some of the kit arriving at the start of the exercise. In order to reduce the environmental impact as much as possible, the minimum number of vehicles were taken down the track to the exercise site. The exercise was carried out with the help of the Fire Service. The guy in the middle is Sean Prendergast, the Chief Ranger. The lady on the left with the camera was from the BBC. Love the hat, Sean!
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The blue thing everyone is gathered around is one of the portable dams. On the ground is one of the small 2-stroke pumps used for actually fighting the fires. The business end of the operation. Note the small-bore hose - obtaining water on the moors is a major problem and it often has to be airlifted in. The small bore hose needs less water to fill than standard hose, and is easier to transport. The most important part of the day - Lunch! For once the National Park provided something for free :-)
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One of the Centaur firefighting vehicles. Normal vehicles can't operate on peat bog, so these are used. The contraption on the back is a high-pressure water pump & reservoir, with a huge funnel so helicopters can refill it. And after it is all over, everybody off - scenes reminiscent of the Paris-Dakkar rally :-) Checking in. For safety reasons everyone on the fireground has to have a tally which is held at the Fire Service Forward Control. Here we are picking them up after the exercise has finished.
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The debrief. Here Sean tells us how brilliant we all were... ..and here are his happy troops, hanging on his every word - right? :-)