Vounteer rangers Peter Woodland, left, and David Bratley on the fire bikes

Vounteer rangers Peter Woodland, left, and David Bratley on the fire bikes

Peak District rangers have taken to two wheels to get across an important safety message for outdoor enthusiasts in the national park.

The authority volunteers pedalled 75 miles on loaned ‘fire bikes’ to highlight the dangers of wildfires.

Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service lent the rangers the bicycles for a two-week pilot, with the upper Derwent Valley, Longdendale and Langsett the target of the information rides, during which almost 300 people were spoken to about the risks of lighting fires or barbecues in the countryside.

The rangers shared images of fires and their aftermath and leaflets on how to prevent wildfires.

Each year, fire destroys acres of countryside and wildlife habitats. Some fires are started deliberately, but most are due to carelessness.

Jenny Waller, the Peak District national park’s volunteer development officer, said: “The pilot scheme was a great success and our volunteer rangers received positive feedback from everyone they spoke to.

“Walkers and picnickers were intrigued to find rangers with bikes talking about the threat to moorland from wildfire. Many mountain bikers were also drawn to them for advice. We would urge all our visitors to help us to protect and care for the UK’s original national park.”

Area manager Alex Johnson, from Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service, said: “Wildfires present a huge risk to the Peak District, spreading quickly and with devastating consequences.

“It’s therefore essential that we work with our colleagues from the park to help educate visitors and prevent these fires from occurring in the first instance.

“In 2015 we received a grant for the purchase of six pedal bikes to be used by fire service volunteers, to help reduce the number of crime related incidents attended by both the fire service and police across Derbyshire. The pilot scheme in the Peak District seemed a natural extension to the use of these bikes, giving national park rangers the perfect opportunity for greater interaction with visitors and to discuss outdoor fire.”

It is hoped that the fire bikes scheme will be used again, particularly at times when there is a high risk of moorland wildfires.

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