Fire service recognised for tackling last summer’s moorland blazes with award

Awards presenter Sir Lee Pearson with firefighters Ant Ball and Derren Taffe.

STAFFORDSHIRE Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), along with partner agencies and the communities of the Staffordshire Moorlands, have been honoured for their efforts in the face of last year’s wildfires.

The community awards were promoted by the Leek Post and Times, sponsored by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, and were presented at Alton Towers, recognising the unsung heroes from around the district.

Firefighters Antony Ball, who is wholetime and on-call watch manager at Leek Community Fire Station, and Derren Taaffe, who is an on-call crew manager at Leek, attended the awards on behalf of colleagues who were involved in dealing with the fires last year.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service was revealed as the winner of the Special Recognition award category.

During the summer of 2018 three large wildfires at Dimmingsdale, Alton, an area of moorlands between Thorncliffe and Shawfields, near the Mermaid pub, and the Roaches, near Leek, damaged thousands of hectares of beautiful Staffordshire Moorlands countryside.

The fires commanded hundreds of hours of firefighting and committed partner agencies for days, as they threatened nearby homes and destroyed the habitat of local wildlife, which is still recovering.

Firefighter Antony Ball said: “Both of us attended the three large fires in the Moorlands, along with many other smaller incidents during the summer months. 

“We’ve never experienced a summer with such a high number of incidents; the hours were long and the work physically gruelling. Many of us worked over and above our shifts and on-call hours so to be thanked in this way is incredible, we’re very humbled by this recognition. 

“We’re really honoured to have been able to accept this award on behalf of all at SFRS that were involved in tackling the wildfires last year, including wholetime and on-call firefighters, fire control and other support staff, and our volunteers.

“It must also be said that resolving the incidents was a team effort and would not have been possible without help from all our partner agencies, local businesses and residents, neighbouring fire services and members of the Fire Operations Group who rallied together.”