OPINION: Summer months keep station crews busier than ever - Firefighter Kirsty Shepherd

By heck, June has been warm! Not surprisingly, the fire service goes to more incidents at this time of year. The hot weather of course brings about more activities with people travelling all over ‘Gods Own Country’. With 6,000 miles of road in North Yorkshire, fire crews have kept busy with vehicle related incidents from overheated engines, vehicle fires to extricating people from crashed vehicles.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 30th June 2022, 3:51 pm
Representing Pateley Bridge at Buckingham Palace  next  year - Kirsty Shepherd.
Representing Pateley Bridge at Buckingham Palace next year - Kirsty Shepherd.

A regular incident - and one that is easily done - is accidental vehicle lock ins. In Harlow Carr Gardens last week, Harrogate crew responded to reports of two dogs accidentally locked in a vehicle. The owner had left her keys in the front of the vehicle then went into the boot. Once she shut the boot, the car had self-locked (the dogs were not left alone at any point). Fire crews cooled the vehicle with one hose reel jet, then released the dogs using a glass punch and gave water to them. The same week, Knaresborough crews released a young child who had become locked inside a car. Again this was accidental due to the vehicle self-locking.

We have attended many fires in the open in the last month. These are sometimes campfires which have not been extinguished properly or accidental fires started by discarded cigarettes. Or sometimes fires started with malicious intent. At the back end of May we unfortunately came across arson in Harrogate town centre. Bins were deliberately set on fire. One night we went to six large bin fires which potentially could have spread to commercial premises if they were not extinguished. Arrests have been made by the police and the incident is under investigation.

On the subject of fire, we occasionally get called out to fires started in unusual ways. Did you know that reflective items such as mirrors or glass kept near a window could start a fire in your home? These items can magnify the sun’s rays onto combustible items such as blinds, curtains or bedding causing them to ignite. So do take a look around your home and if you have magnifying mirrors or other items such as glass ornaments or paperweights, please make sure they are kept out of direct sunlight. It’s also important to keep aerosols or any other flammable items out of direct sunlight too.

Fires can also start by spontaneous combustion! Fire crews went to a muck heap on fire at a farm the other week. The fire had started on its own accord and fortunately caused little damage. In case you were wondering how it started, the science behind it is – “spontaneous combustion can occur when a substance with a relatively low ignition temperature (hay, straw, peat, etc.) begins to release heat. This may occur in several ways, either by oxidation in the presence of moisture and air, or bacterial fermentation, which generates heat.” Odd as it may seem, wet hay is more likely to spontaneously combust than dry hay. If the moisture is over 25 per cent, a chemical reaction occurs that builds heat. Farmers can monitor their hay by using temperature/moisture meters (connected to a long probe) so they can observe any changes and take action to prevent combustion from occurring. Hay fires usually occur within six weeks of baling.

You may have heard in the news about the Fire Service’s proposed Risk Resource Model. It proposes a different model of fire cover for the Harrogate area. The fire service is encouraging you, the people in our community, to submit your response to these proposals as part of the public consultation. Please go to www.tellcommissionerzoe.co.uk to see what the changes are and fill out the survey. Whatever your view may be, it is not counted unless you fill in the online survey.

On a lighter note, Harrogate Fire Station is having an open day this Saturday, July 2 from 11am to 4.30pm. We hope to see you there!