Leeds & West Yorkshire

Ilkley and Marsden moor fire crews had 'insufficient capability'

Firefighters tackle a blaze on moorland above Marsden Image copyright OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption A review found the blazes on the Ilkley and Marsden moors "tested the capabilities" of fire crews

Firefighters had "insufficient dedicated wildfire capability" to tackle two moorland blazes last April, a review has found.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) dealt with fires at Ilkley and Marsden moors.

A review found the fires had "tested the capabilities" of the service.

The service said the review had sought to learn lessons and better prepare it for dealing with moorland fires in the future.

The blaze on Marsden Moor, probably caused by a discarded barbecue, destroyed an estimated six sq miles (15 sq km) of wildlife habitat.

It spread from near Huddersfield towards Saddleworth in Greater Manchester.

Several acres of Ilkley Moor also caught fire over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend after soaring temperatures hit the region.

Image copyright James Smith
Image caption It comes after firefighters tackled large moorland blazes on Ilkley and Marsden moors last April

According to the review: "These incidents highlighted a number of issues such as equipment for dealing with wildfires and continued exposure to moorland fires."

It said crews were affected by the hot weather and the severity of the conditions.

There were three emergency evacuations, including one which left a firefighter with serious burns to the head.

Resources were stretched because of the number of appliances used to tackle the fires, with crews from Greater Manchester, Cumbria and Merseyside brought in to help.

Jim Butters, area manager for operational support at WYFRS, said: "Over the last couple of years West Yorkshire crews have tackled a series of major widespread moorland fires both within West Yorkshire and in assistance of colleagues in Manchester/Lancashire.

"This review has sought to learn the collective lessons from those incidents and will result in enhancements to our training, equipment and how we work collaboratively with partner agencies."

A number of recommendations have been made to prepare crews for future moorland fires.

These include providing firefighters in high-risk areas, such as Mytholmroyd and Ilkley, with specific training and providing protective equipment designed for tackling wildfires.

Image copyright James Smith
Image caption The review recommended extra training and issuing crews with protective equipment specially designed for tackling wildfires

Crews will also be trained to drive vehicles designed to get to remote hilly areas quickly, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reported.

The recommendations will go before West Yorkshire Fire Authority's Community Safety Committee on Friday.

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