Herts' 'league of extraordinary farmers' come together to fight field fires

A field fire which blocked a railway line in Great Chesterford, Essex, near the Hertfordshire border (July 2022)

A field fire which blocked a railway line in Great Chesterford, Essex, near the Hertfordshire border (July 2022) - Credit: Gerard Clinton

Hertfordshire has a new "league of extraordinary farmers" who are working with firefighters to tackle field blazes in dry weather.

After a spate of outdoor blazes in the county - which prompted Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service to declare a major incident for a short period in July - more than 60 "connectors" have been bought to give firefighters direct access to water in rural locations.

The initiative is a partnership between the fire service and the National Farmers Union (NFU) which could help protect crops and property in the future.

Farmers and firefighters in Hertfordshire are working together to ensure fire crews can access a steady water supply

Farmers and firefighters in Hertfordshire are working together to ensure fire crews can access a steady water supply in rural areas - Credit: NFU

Jamie Burrows, NFU regional crops board chair, said: "The consensus was that the fires we’ve seen during the heatwave are not a one off and we wanted to be better prepared for future events."

He added: "We talked about their fittings on fire appliances and spent about half an hour in a store shed before I grabbed one of the fittings and said, 'I'm taking this home'.

"I went straight to see James Williams at North Herts Farmers and we worked out what we needed.

"We wanted to do something proactive on this, and with the fire service so supportive, wanting to work with us, it seemed like a golden opportunity."

James Williams, firefighter Wayne Gibbons, Gordon Paice and Tom Parkins

James Williams, firefighter Wayne Gibbons, Gordon Paice and Tom Parkins are working to prevent the spread of future field fires - Credit: NFU

A connector to help firefighters quickly access a steady water supply in rural locations throughout Hertfordshire

A connector to help firefighters quickly access a steady water supply in rural locations throughout Hertfordshire - Credit: NFU

Wayne Gibbons, from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue, said: "With the unprecedented weather that we’ve had, everything is so dry and we’ve had a massive spike in crop and field fires.

Most Read

"We’ve been working extremely hard to protect the countryside and keep the community safe.

"We carry a limited supply of water on fire appliances, so we can have an initial strike into a fire, which we would supplement using fire hydrants, but these hydrants aren’t available in rural areas.

"To have water readily available for use is essential. We don’t need large amounts, but we do need a steady supply.

"We can use lakes or ponds. However, it can be time-consuming to get that water, so this new connector is another step forward in how farmers can assist us."

A field fire in Cheshunt in July 2022

A field fire in Cheshunt in July 2022 - Credit: Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

An NFU spokesperson said 60 connectors have been bought by a so-called "league of extraordinary farmers" in North Herts and at the NFU.

The new connector was tested at a farm in Much Hadham near Bishop's Stortford. Fire crews used a water bowser to fill a 1,600 litre fire engine tank "rapidly".