Green fields highlighted by sunrays through heavy clouds from Curbar Edge

Multi-agency exercise tackles Peak District wildfire scenario

Thursday 16 May 2024

Firefighters being briefed at Stanage EdgeFirefighters have joined forces with Peak District National Park rangers and moorland managers in a training exercise to prepare for a wildfire scenario.

The exercise, at Stanage Edge, between Hathersage and Sheffield, on the National Park Authority's Stanage-North Lees estate, tested how specialist equipment would be used in a real-life emergency and how teams would work together to tackle a moorland fire.

It was organised by Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service (DFRS) and supported by partners in the Fire Operations Group (FOG).

FOG brings together a partnership of fire and rescue services, National Park rangers, National Trust and RSPB wardens, water companies, major landowners and gamekeepers to draw up fire plans, oversee specialist fire-fighting equipment, raise awareness of moorland fires and the consequences and train for emergencies.

In attendance at this exercise were fire crews from Hathersage, Bakewell, Staveley, Buxton, Glossop and Duffield alongside land managers, farmers and gamekeepers.

Wildfire in the open landscape is a high risk for Peak District habitats. The National Park’s moorlands - which include large expanses of blanket bog and upland heath - are of global environmental importance. Wildfires have devastating effects on the habitats and wildlife which rely on them.

While not always the source of ignition, activities such as disposable BBQ use, campfires and dropped cigarettes are increasingly the reason for major blazes and a larger number of smaller fires which tie up emergency service resources and could potentially cause a delay to other life risk emergencies.

One of the largest fires in 2023 took place on the Eastern Moors, less than a mile from the exercise location.

Peak District National Park Authority ranger team manager, Andy Farmer, said: "This is a scenario we hope will never happen but, unfortunately, all too often it does.

"Multi-agency training exercises allow us to plan for prompt, effective reactions to real-life events. They test joint decision-making and incident command and are also an opportunity to highlight how easily fires can start. We urge visitors to help us to minimise the risks.

"Regular training also allows new members of staff to understand what an emergency may be like, reduce confusion and delay and to build familiarity with people from other agencies."

The exercise demonstrated the specialist knowledge of the landscape that rangers and gamekeepers can contribute to support of the fire service. It did not include live fire use, due to landscape conditions and bird nesting on the estate.

Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service Wildfire Lead, Station Manager Mark King said: “We have seen firsthand the devastation that wildfires can cause across our Derbyshire moorland, taking up a lot of our resources, causing untold damage to our local ecosystem and disrupting our communities.

"Regular multi-agency training exercises allow us to test our procedures and joint decision making to ensure we are prepared to respond to all incidents and emergency situations.

"The terrain at Stanage Edge presents a great opportunity to bring together our skills and knowledge ahead of the warmer weather, while also highlighting steps everyone can take to reduce the risk of wildfire and protect our landscape."

Preventing a wild fire

  • Never have a BBQs in open countryside/moorland. Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) ban their use in many areas across Derbyshire.
  • Discard all rubbish, including glass bottles in bins provided, or take it home
  • Do not light campfires
  • Ensure cigarettes are extinguished and discarded responsibly.

What to do if you see a fire in the countryside

If you spot an uncontrolled fire in the open countryside, or you see large volumes of smoke call 999, giving as much detail about the fire’s location as possible. Do not put yourself at any risk by tackling a fire.

Be a FireStopper

If you see someone deliberately setting a fire or know of anyone having a BBQ or campfire on the moors, tell Firestoppers 100% anonymously.

Call 0800 169 5558 or report online at:

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