WOMEN power is lending a hand to help hard-pressed fire and police officers in the battle to protect Saddleworth’s moors and wildlife.
Jessica Moreland, president of the recently-formed Dovestones WI, is in talks with authorities over a plan to introduce Fire Marshals to alert them to the danger of moorland fires.
The Delph-born mother of two stressed: “This isn’t something just for our 90-strong WI membership to make happen – it’s for everyone to do their bit.
“There is training provided and you will receive the tools you need to be an effective and integral part of this quest to make the countryside and wildlife safe again.
“This is not going to be an overnight thing but we have to take the first step in this mission,” she emphasised.
“If we get cracking with it now, we stand a very good chance of getting a team of volunteers together before the summer time madness and heat hits us.
“It would work on a two-hour rota system and volunteers would work in pairs for safety.
“The marshals would be strategically placed around the area – not just on the reservoir circuit, but up off the beaten track and report any suspicious activity.
“If these people know they are being watched, they may think twice about lighting that BBQ.
“The more fires that need putting out, the more water is taken from the reservoir, thus emptying it, making it not as ‘pretty’ so tourists stop visiting. The irony would be laughable if it wasn’t so devastating.”
More than 60 volunteers joined in the first 24 hours, Jessica confirmed.
“The response has been incredible. We have also had offers for signs and printed hi-viz vests to be made by a local printing company.
“Fell runners and hikers, drones, dash cam patrol and telescopes have all been offered up.
“This is extremely humbling and fills me with confidence that we can do this.”
But she added: “Personal safety is paramount and something police can’t stress enough. As a fire marshal, the aim is to act as a deterrent and a pair of eyes. Not to tackle or confront. As soon as you see something amiss, you ring it in.
“I’m going to arrange a community meeting for volunteers and ask Oldham Mountain Rescue if they can attend so we may benefit and use their knowledge of the wider area.
“It will also give us an opportunity to meet everyone and make sure that people’s abilities are suitably matched with the area they’ll be patrolling or watching.”
For more information, check the Facebook page Facebook/DovestoneWI or their website: Dovestonewi.com