New firefighting equipment to help protect beauty spot from more blazes

SPECIALIST all-terrain firefighting equipment will be part of a task force this year to help protect a local beauty spot from the threat of moorland fires.

Dovestone specialist equipment

Two Argo Avenger eight-wheel vehicles have been bought by United Utilities who are responsible for land at Dovestone Reservoir in Greenfield.

They are investing in the high-powered vehicles after one was brought in to help quell the fires which swept the moors last summer.

A spokesperson for UU said: “We’re going to buy another two Argo Avengers plus associated fire-fighting kit such as hoses, pumps and fogger units.

“These units can be mounted in the back of the all-terrain vehicle and work a bit like a jet washer.

“They allow you to pump out water at high pressure and inject it down into the peat to tackle the fire below ground level.”

The move was welcomed by Dr Andrew Taylor, chair of Greenfield and Grasscroft Residents Association, who has been campaigning to step up fire safety precautions at the site.

Dr Taylor is also a long-serving member of the heroic Oldham Mountain Rescue Team, which logged 1,698 volunteer hours last year battling the blazes.

He even spent his 71st birthday on the moors fighting the fires with his team-mates as well as colleagues from other emergency services.

Commenting on the new vehicles, he said: “I’m delighted to learn UU are purchasing highly appropriate equipment.

“It’s also pleasing GMFRS are training on wildfire management. This is impressive, welcome and timely.”

But he added the threat from fires could be greater this year and along with UU, the RSPB, Peak District National Park and Oldham Council, is calling for increased awareness among visitors to keep the moors safe.

Although BBQs are banned at Dovestone and dog owners are urged to keep pets on leads near livestock, many visitors ignore the warnings.

A team of Dovestone Marshals, an initiative first instigated by the Saddleworth and Lees policing team last year, will be on duty at entrances to the site again at weekends from Easter to help control traffic and advise visitors on safety issues.

The marshal scheme is being backed by Saddleworth and Lees District executive and partner agencies and there are other plans to increase focus on site safety.

Meanwhile, residents living near the reservoir, who have previously been marooned in their homes by inconsiderate visitors, are keeping a diary logging problems at the site.

They have asked Oldham Council to investigate whether they can put white lines down the centre of Bank Lane to assist long term with access to their homes.

And they are requesting existing signs are made clearer and speeding issues surrounding speeding off-road bikers are investigated.

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