Young firebugs who attack firefighters in Blackburn and Burnley or make hoax calls are set to be brought onside by a new campaign. Fire brigade chiefs in Lancashire are launching ‘FIRES’ (Fire Intervention Response and Education Scheme) in the East Lancashire towns later this month in a bid to teach tearaways about the dangers of playing with fire.
Violent attacks on firefighters in the county have nearly doubled, over a three-year period, according to official figures. Twenty-six incidents were reported in 2005-2006 but this rose to fifty by 2007-2008, prompting concern by chief fire officer. In October, youths hurled paving stones at a crew on an emergency call in Audley, Blackburn. In Daneshouse, Burnley, in 2008, peace talks had to be brokered by community leaders between youths and fire crews after a number of attacks. Although the number of hoax calls are falling in the county, there are still several hotspots, such as East Lancashire, Blackpool and Preston.
FIRES is underpinned by an education programme, aimed at 4-17 year olds, which includes basic fire safety skills. Those taking part will be referred in different ways such as by their parents, schools, police and the NHS. One-on-one sessions will take place with the worst cases but normally groups of 6 will be taught in sessions at fire stations. In Lancashire, 45% of callouts are to fires that have been started deliberately and this costs the county approximately £40million a year. These fires can destroy properties, businesses and cause serious injury and even death. The FIRES course aims to reduce the number of these fires and raise awareness of fire hazards.
Here at Greengates Builders Merchants Accrington, Lancashire we feel this is a very serious issue and one that definitely needs addressing. We hope that this new education programme helps others to realise the seriousness of fires.