Young people get fired-up about home fire safety

YOUNG people in Northumberland are working with the fire and rescue service on specially designed courses aimed at keeping themselves, their families and their communities safe.

The courses, run by officers in the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service Community Safety Academy, cover many aspects of fire safety including the importance of smoke alarms and how to fit them.

Open to 16 to 25-year-olds, the programme is free to those not in education, employment or training.

The aim of each two-week course is to give young people an opportunity to work with the service to develop skills and knowledge that they, their communities and potential employers can benefit from.

As part of the course, participants visit elderly people on supervised visits with Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service officers to fit smoke alarms.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Bennett said: “The course teaches practical skills, such as core firefighting skills, and encourages continuous personal development including self-discipline, social responsibility and community awareness.

“After learning about the vital, potentially lifesaving warning a working smoke detector can give a household, it’s important that young people learn how to fit them correctly.

“This is something they can take back to their families and neighbours to improve home fire safety in the community.”

The scheme, which has been running for nine years, teaches many aspects of fire, road and community safety.

Those who complete it gain a BTEC award in Fire and Rescue Services in the Community.

This qualification, along with the communication and team work skills the course aims to develop, has helped many young people, who previously struggled to find employment, successfully secure a job.

Since the course began in 2003 – as part of a wide range of community safety initiatives run by Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, – figures have shown huge improvements:

Deliberate primary fires reduced by 79 per cent;

Deliberate secondary fires reduced by 63 per cent;

All primary fires reduced by 54 per cent;

Injuries from primary fires reduced by 82 per cent

Accidental dwelling fires reduced by 36 per cent;

Malicious false alarms reduced by 82 per cent.

For more information about the courses or to book a place, e-mail Andrea Sterry or phone 01670 591146.

Mr Bennett added: “Across the country, as in Northumberland, there is a link between the number of young people not in education, employment or training and incidents of anti-social behaviour.

“This can manifest in fires that have been started deliberately by young people.

“Figures also show that children living in households where parents have never worked or have suffered long-term unemployment are 37 times more likely to die as a result of exposure to smoke, fire or flames.

“This course aims to help participants improve their chances of finding employment and at the same time gives invaluable information about fire safety.

“We have found, since running this very successful course, the number of incidents has reduced significantly.”