United Kingdom — FIREFIGHTERS are turning to pedal power in a bid to prevent blazes in rural and isolated areas.
It is hoped the bicycles will make it easier for staff to get to places which fire engines struggle to reach such as parklands, woodland pathways, canal towpaths and grass fire hot spots.
Six firefighters at Stone Fire Station have been given safety training to use the two bikes, which have been fitted with Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service branding.
Prevention manager, Neil Pedersen, said: “This is an innovative and cost effective way in which we can spread our fire prevention and other safety messages to areas of the community that are normally difficult for our fire appliances or other vehicles to reach.
“It is also of course, an added way for firefighters to keep fit and encourages other members of the community to do the same.”
Firefighters will use the bikes to speak to canal boat owners and walkers about fire prevention and safety.
They will carry smoke alarms with them and equipment to install them on the spot.
Latest figures show there were 1,191 incidents of grass fires in Staffordshire last year, costing the fire service hundreds of thousands of pounds in call-outs.
Of the 1,191 reported grass fires, 272 were in Stoke-on-Trent, 88 in Newcastle, 70 in the Moorlands and 67 in Stafford and Stone.
The average cost of sending a fire appliance out to an incident currently stands at £296.
Firefighter Rob Pickstock, who is based at Stone, said: “I think the bikes are a great idea.
“It will make getting out and about to places like canal towpaths much easier than having to send a fire engine.
“We will also be able to keep an eye on the isolated areas and can report any problems or fires we see.
“We can go within a five-mile radius of the station, so we will be able to cycle in the town centre and provide a presence there.”
Stone Crew Manager Mike Burnside said: “We’ve got six firefighters who can use the bikes at the minute, but I’m looking to get more trained on them.
“It’s all about giving the fire service an added presence and allowing us to engage with the community more.
“Bicycles have been a success when used by Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and we are hoping for the same.”
Alex Clayton, aged 29, who is a manager at Aston Marina Farm Shop, near Stone, believes the bikes will provide an added reassurance to canal users.
He said: “Having more of a presence is always a good thing.
“We get a lot of visitors to the marina and we want to keep the canals as safe as possible.”