Presentation to team on Lancashire Fire Operations Group by LFRS Officer Shaun Walton.

Regular readers will recall from previous reports that we are a member of the Lancashire Fire Operations Group, essentially a grouping under Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service of all agencies in Lancashire (And from outside the county) who would come together to tackle ‘Wildfires’ in the Lancashire area.

The principal lead Fire Officer in LFRS is Shaun Walton, currently LFRS Service Delivery Manager, Preston District.

Shaun is a great friend and supporter of the team, since ‘we’ first met when at the time he was a Sub Officer in Greater Manchester County Fire Service as was, back in 2003, when based at Bolton Central Fire Station, we took place in a joint Fire Service / Mountain Rescue exercise.

Now with LFRS, Shaun who lives in Horwich, was also instrumental recently in the donation to Bolton MRT of four Thermal Image Cameras by LFRS.

Tonight Shaun kindly visited the Bolton MRT at our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ to provide to the overall team membership an overview of the Lancashire Fire Operations Group, and how wildfires are now tackled in Lancashire.

In a very intense and interesting two hour long presentation, Shaun kept the twenty eight team members present entertained, and answered their various questions.

In his presentation, Shaun covered why what was once referred to as grass fires, moorland fires and forest fires are now referred to as ‘Wildfires.’

He then gave an overview of wildfires, their impact on the economy, environment and the emergency services involved, going on to detail the national position.

Under the Lancashire FOG, he then outlined the various vehicle types that would now be present, including such diverse types and names as Hagglunds, Polaris, Softrac, the good old faithful Land Rover, Argocat and Tracked tippers.

Partner agencies, multi agency involvement (Including great emphasis on the assistance provided by Bolton MRt, Bowland Pennine MRT, Rossendale and Pendle MRT and Bay Search and Rescue Team) Fire plans, Reliefs, Welfare, Operational Control and on going training were then outlined.

The involvement of water bucket equipped helicopters from Pennine Helicopters (Of Saddleworth) was mentioned as was the reasoning behind what often becomes major road closures upon the moorlands when dealing with wildfires.

Wildfire terminology was then covered, we now know, or should know ! what the following means when joint working with LFRS on wildfire incidents ; Origin, head, Flanks, Tail, Finger, Island, Spot Fire, Flame length (As opposed to Flame height) Upwind / downwind, Smoldering, Creeping, Classification (Low, moderate, high, extreme) Spotting, Flare up, Fuel arrangement, Anchor point, Back burn, Backing Fire, Control line, Trigger point, Direct and Indirect attacks (Maybe our Team Leader and Deputy Team Leader will be tested on their memory retention of these terms when the Spring 2013 ‘Wildfire season’ commences !)

Incident Command and LACES / SMEAC was then covered (And so you know ….. Lookouts, Awareness, Communications, Escape Routes, Safety Zone aka LACES, Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration, Command and Control aka SMEAC)

Throughout Shaun’s presentation much use was made of films and pictures of wildfires including the large scale major incident fire on Anglezarke Moor in early 2011, which was the largest wildfire in England of that year. (At which both Bolton MRT and Bowland Pennine MRT provided a huge amount of logistical, catering, and local knowledge support)

In early spring next year, two exercises are planned to test the Lancashire FOG plan before the wildfire season commences, which will involve vehicle familiarisation and exercising to take advantage of ‘controlled burns’ by moorland grouse moor estate staff at Bleasdale Fell in the Trough of Bowland.

The Bolton MRT will be present at these exercises, and remains totally committed to the Lancashire FOG plan.

The Bolton MRT would like to thank LFRS Fire Officer Shaun Walton for his time tonight to explain how the FOG plan works and for his continuing interest and support in the work of the Bolton MRT and our colleagues at Bowland Pennine MRT and Rossendale and Pendle MRT.

Please also see website ‘news’ reports dated Wednesday 12th September 2012, Tuesday 29th May 2012, Wednesday 28th March 2012, Wednesday 12th May 2004 and Saturday 26th April 2003.