THIS is one kind of cat that is protecting, not chasing, birds.
Eight-wheeled Argocat is a new addition to Calderdale firefighters’ kit and helps protect the habitat of moorland wildlife. Based at Todmorden fire station and funded by Yorkshire Water, it will enable crews to reach previously inaccessible parts of the moors.
As well as defending wildlife such as the endangered twite, Argocat will also help deal with town-centre flooding and emergency situations in other difficult locations.
Todmorden fire station commander and lead wildlife officer for the area Robin Ward said: “This is a fantastic piece of equipment and will greatly assist us and our neighbouring fire and rescue services in fighting moorland and grass fires.
“We are grateful to Yorkshire Water for funding this vehicle. It is a useful addition to our armoury.”
Charlotte Weightman, of the RSPB Twite Recovery Project, said moorland fires, especially during the nesting season, had a huge impact on the ground-nesting twite.
“The twite is one of England’s most threatened birds whose only remaining breeding pairs are in the South Pennines,” she explained. “Moorland fires can have a devastating effect on the population with blazes destroying four nesting colonies, out of a total of about 20, in April alone.”
Lisa Harrowsmith, Yorkshire Water’s senior rural surveyor, said: “We were keen to invest and support the work the fire services do in protecting these valuable moorlands, not just because of the wildlife but also because of the devastating effect wildfire can have on water quality and in causing pollution.”
The Argocat, from Canada, is equipped with a fire-fogging unit that sprays water directly on to the flames or on to the advancing fire front to dampen the area and prevent fire spreading.