A WISTOW farmer who designed a device to help firefighters gain easier access to water supplies has won an award.

A WISTOW farmer who designed a device to help firefighters gain easier access to water supplies has won an award.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service gave the award to Richard Blackhurst at a ceremony on Thursday at Huntingdon's Marriott Hotel.

He developed a device in October called the Fireman's Friend.

In realising that most farms have large tanks of water that are not available to crews, Mr Blackhurst manufactured a connector to allow firefighters access to the water supply.

He said: "When a farm building catches fire, the first fire engine on the scene does not typically have enough water to put it out A typical engine holds about 1,800 litres which is discharged in a few minutes whereas a barn fire requires many thousands of litres to extinguish it.

"Farmers typically store between five to 10 times more water in tanks on their premises than fire engines carry.

"The only impediment that prevents firefighters from using the abundant water on site is lack of a connector between their engine and the farmer's water tank."

Mr Blackburn, 42, developed the device after helplessly watching a relative's farm buildings burn down in Bury last summer.

He said: "We had 40,000 tonnes of water just sitting in a tank, which the firefighters couldn't access.

"One day we hope the Fireman's Friend will be used at every farm in England."

When asked how he felt about the award he said: "It was very unexpected. I felt honoured."

Kimbolton School also won a certificate of commendation for assisting the fire service in community safety, training and recruitment. As well as employing retained firefighters, the school has provided its buildings for training exercises and helped.

Other Huntingdonshire award winners include the Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which received the retained employer of the year award for supporting fire cover in the area. The trust employs six out of 10 of the station's retained firefighters.

The excellence award for innovation went to green watch at Huntingdon fire station for devising and testing another new method of supplying water for fire crews. This creates a join between two hoses - which extends the overall hose length and allows access to water supplies which would normally be too far away.

Other winners include Huntingdon firefighter Robert Allwood, station manager at fire HQ in Huntingdon Martin Brown, head of training and development at fire HQ Nick Foster, operation support group at fire HQ, Philip Hill, St Neots firefighter Kim Johnson, crew manager at Kimbolton Fire Station, Trevor White, Danny Rust group manager of estates and property at fire HQ and Brenda White, retired crew manager at fire control.

Chief fire officer, Graham Stagg, who hosted the awards with BBC Look East presenter, Janine Machin, said: "The awards are about recognising and celebrating the commitment, dedication and professionalism of those who go above and beyond to improve the level of service that we provide to the community."