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Firefighters' green ideas blossoming

PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 April 2010

MENTION the word "firefighter" and most people think of daring rescues and fighting flames.

But the firefighting team at Bury St Edmunds might soon have to be renamed “green watch” because of their passion for gardening, nature and looking after animals.

Not only have they created a secret wildlife sanctuary at the back of the town’s fire station in Parkway, they have now beautified the land in front and put up a fence with honeysuckle growing against it.

Some of the firefighters have even suggested keeping chickens and pigs. The firefighter who started the green revolution is Paul Turner. He said it all started with recycling, which led to the creation of a wildlife habitat at the rear of the station.

At first, he said, some of his colleagues made fun of him.

A few years later, however, and the firefighters in Bury proudly boast that they have the greenest and best-looking fire 
station in Suffolk, if not the country.

He said: “A lot of them are on board now and they bring in plants from home and help out. Several of them are now planning to put out hedgehog boxes and bat boxes and they are always suggesting things to me such as keeping pigs and chickens.”

He said Bury fire crew’s involvement last year with Bury in Bloom, which gave a grant towards the improvement, led to a number of interested parties trying to sneak a peak at the firefighters’ secret garden.

Rather than allow trespassing, firefighters decided instead to offer occasional tours of the wildlife area to community groups.

“It’s a modest effort achieved with limited time and resources, but hopefully it will link in with all the other small efforts that many people are making because of Bury in Bloom and the ecological message they are promoting,” he said.

“It fits in with the way I believe we should live with nature. If we don’t care for and provide for our wildlife then before long, habitats are destroyed and certain species are put under mounting pressure.”

Bury in Bloom campaign manager Julia Rackowe said: “We were very impressed by Paul’s determination to learn about wildlife conservation and put into action his dream of providing a wildlife space in the middle of town.”

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