YOUNG grouse prevented firefighters, park rangers,
wildlife experts and others who deal with moorland fires from
taking part in a training exercise in Tameside!
The moorland birds and potential flooding forced firefighters to
adapt moorland fire training between Stalybridge and Mottram.
Up to 10 crews were due to train on Friday, June 22, - but plans
changed to protect wildlife at the site due to the weather
conditions and also to ensure they were prepared to respond to any
emergencies the torrential rain may have caused.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service was due to test its
ability to cope with a moorland fire with an exercise on land off
Hobson Moor Road and Gallows Clough Road, Mottram.
However, the training moved to Stalybridge Fire Station to
protect local wildlife because of the bad weather and so
firefighters could be more easily operational to deal with any
flooding caused by the torrential rain.
It is breeding season for the grouse whose habitat is the
moorland and disturbing them in the unseasonal conditions could
have been particularly detrimental to the birds.
Borough Manager Jon Heydon said: "Considerable planning went
into this exercise and it is vital we do it because the moorland
and its wildlife are an important part of our region and water
supply as well as our environmental heritage so we need to protect
"But those - and our desire to be as ready as possible to
protect life and property because of the flooding - are the very
reasons we decided to scale down the exercise and run it from the
station because we need to protect that habitat.
"The community close to where we were due to carry out this
exercise remembers only too well when there was a real moorland
fire in July 2006.
"We were still able to test our procedures, knowledge and
methods of working with partners like the Peak District National
Park, United Utilities, Oldham Mountain and RSPB."
The exercise, codenamed Operation Molina 2, brought together
around 30 firefighters and staff from the other agencies with all
their equipment at the station in Stalybridge.
Those gathered still went through the principles of the scenario
they were due to face on the moors to test what they would have
done in those circumstances.
Sean Prendergast from the Peak District National Park gave a
presentation to give everyone an insight into local sites, their
history, how they are currently managed, what wildlife is up there,
how and where fires can start and the problems that can be faced in
fighting fires in such unique remote areas.
Staff from each organisation got to familiarise themselves with
the vehicles, equipment and techniques each other would use to
reach and tackle a moorland fire.