Farmers told to help water supply

SUFFOLK'S farmers are today being advised to dig themselves a pond after firefighters faced problems fighting a blaze at a farm at Copdock.

SUFFOLK'S farmers are today being advised to dig themselves a pond after firefighters faced problems fighting a blaze at a farm at Copdock.

Crews tackling a blaze at Hall Farm on Friday were hampered because there was no easy water supply available, and the Suffolk Fire Service is today sending out the message that ponds can be a great help in similar situations.

Fire appliances carry 1,800 litres of water, around 400 gallons, and then have to rely on supplies from hydrants, rivers or the sea.

But at Copdock there was no easy access to any other supplies so a water bowser carrying 9,000 litres had to be called in from fire headquarters in Colchester Road, Ipswich.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Fire Service said: “Fire appliances all carry the same amount of water - it is laid down in national guidelines and has been the same since 1947.

“Normally there is no problem because we can access other sources of water, but occasionally in more remote locations this kind of thing can give us a few headaches.

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“Firefighters always find things easier if there is a pond to refill their tanks from, but we can get around the issue as we did on Friday.”

Brian Finnerty from the National Farmers' Union said: “Water availability is a key issue for farms and other rural businesses, particularly as climate change predictions say we will be facing hotter, drier summers in East Anglia in years to come.

“That could bring an increased fire risk as well as threaten water supplies for crop growing.

“Fire prevention advice to farmers includes asking them to identify the nearest available water supplies which could be used in the event of fire, such as lakes, ponds, streams or static water tanks.

“This information needs to be given to attending fire crews at the earliest opportunity.

“Taking this further by asking every farmer to construct a pond sounds a good idea but there could be practical, safety, environmental or financial reasons why this couldn't be done.

“Also many ponds now generate funding under environmental schemes and measures to attract wildlife might conflict with the fire service requirements, such as the need for a pond to be kept free of weeds.”

Weblink:

www.suffolk.gov.uk

n Is it reasonable to ask farmers to dig ponds in case of a fire? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk