WILDFIRES can cause devastation to livestock, habitats and the economy.
Last week, specialists in the field travelled from 11 countries to join Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service for a wildfire workshop.
During the week, which is part of a European-funded project, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service led two field demonstrations.
On Wednesday, the delegates witnessed a live burn exercise at New Moor near Longframlington, which demonstrated the use of fire to fight wildfires.
And on Thursday, the last day of the visit, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service ran an exercise at Linhope fire pond near Ingram in Northumberland National Park to demonstrate the use of a high volume pump unit to create a ‘wall of water’ to stop a wildfire spreading.
Northumberland’s Chief Fire Officer Alex Bennett said: “What we have seen is part of an international conference, which is European funded.
“We’ve had people from 11 different countries come to Northumberland and spend the week with us and we’ve looked at how we deal with the wildfire risk across Northumberland.
“That essentially includes fires in forests and on heathlands, which often can be used as a way of maintaining and managing the land.
“But it’s when these wildfires are not managed or they are out of control when we will work with the landowners and with the National Park and with other agencies to control any wildfires, put them out or stop them spreading to other parts of heathland or even threatening property.”
Andrew Miller, of the Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “We know from evidence from pollen in the soils and deep peat soils on these hills that people started to manage the landscape using fire about 7,000 years ago.
“That management still continues today and it’s important for the economy of the area, but also important for the natural habitats of the species of plants and animals that live here that that management continues.”
One of the foreign visitors, Kim Lintrup, a Chief Fire Officer at Frederikssund-Halsnæs Fire and Rescue Department in Denmark has been to Northumberland before to learn from his British colleagues.
He said: “It’s been amazing to see how things work here in Northumberland.
“What I have learned today is the importance of the co-operation between the fire and rescue service and the landowners and I will take that back to Denmark and say that we need to co-operate much more.
“Wildfires are not a big problem in Denmark at the moment, but, like all other fires, they are a problem and you can see that climate change will raise temperatures, so in the future, I think we will have more wildfires in Denmark.
“And if we want to be prepared in the future, we must start to prevent it today. I believe that the weather that we have here in Northumberland today, we will have in Denmark tomorrow.”