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A Day In The Life Of A Firefighter at Rakes Moss Wildfire

Speaking to Colin Winterbottom, Station Manager Incident Command & BA, who has been on the ground with the crews at the Rakes Moss, we get a clear understanding of how the days have been at this incident.

At 0600 crews decent on the moors to start another day. The site of the fire is often inaccessible for most vehicles, with crews making the final part of the journey on foot, around a 50 minute walk.

With the weather hitting 19-20 degrees, plus fighting the fires in full kit and PPE, conditions are extremely hot and uncomfortable to work in. Add to that the terrain; uneven and steep with hidden holes and dips, it’s extremely tiring work!

Crews carry their equipment; backpacks, shovels etc. as well as all the food and drink they’ll need for the next 8 hours, while wearing full PPE.

When they reach the fire front, the ground they’re walking and working on is incredibly hot! The ground, several feet from the fire front is also burning beneath the surface. Crews use shovels to dig out the burning peat before soaking the ground using portable pumps, and backpacks that have to be refilled every 15 minutes.

Crews refill backpacks and pumps by setting up water dams which are filled by the helicopters working hard to assist us.

The Salvation Army have been an incredible source of support for our crews on the ground, providing food and drink on the moors, often staying on site until the last crew has been fed and watered! As well as the hard work from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, United Utilities, Peak Park Rangers and the RSPB whose support and advice has been invaluable.

Crews leave the site, when darkness makes firefighting unsafe, with the last crews picked up around 1945.

This will continue until the fire is extinguished and the area deemed safe for us to withdraw.

Please keep this hard work in mind when thinking of having a BBQ in the countryside, on moorland or green spaces, leaving litter such as glass bottles and discarding of cigarettes carelessly – all can start a fire like the one we are currently fighting.

collage of images from the rakes moss moorland fire. helicopter dropping water. firefighters battling fire and re-filling backpacks