London Fire Brigade

Young firefighters show their skills at launch of new scheme

02 February 2007

Young people from Hackney showcased new skills this week (31st Jan), at an event launching a London Fire Brigade youth initiative: ‘Young Firefighters’

The scheme is being piloted in two London boroughs and allows young people to develop citizenship, leadership and life skills, whilst learning about the work of a London firefighter.

Young people from the boroughs of Hackney and Bexley are the first to take part in the scheme which is open to 13-18 year olds, and involves weekly evening sessions at a fire station. If the schemes are a success they will be rolled out across the capital.

Young Firefighters was set up to strengthen links between the Brigade and the communities it serves and gives participants the opportunity to learn about fire safety, firefighting skills, take part in outdoor activities, develop teamwork and problem solving skills and carry out projects that benefit the community.

It’s the latest youth engagement programme to be introduced by the Brigade. Others include LiFE, Juvenile Firesetters Intervention Scheme, the Princes’ Trust and the Brigade’s Schools Team*.

Sir Ken Knight, London’s Fire Commissioner, speaking at the event said: “I’m proud of the work London Fire Brigade does with young people and we’ve had some fantastic success stories since our programme of youth engagement was introduced. Youth engagement programmes really can make London a safer city. Young people are great advocates for our messages and can spread the word about the importance of fire safety. We also know that young people talk to their peers, and when we pass on stories about the frustrations of hoax calls, deliberate fires or road traffic collisions – this information will get out into the community and make a real impact.”

Mark Eley, Young Firefighters lead trainer for Hackney said: “I’ve been so impressed with the young people so far and they’ve quickly learned to work as a team and support each other. Some real leaders have come forward too. I get a lot of satisfaction when the young people tell me that, as a result of the course, they are thinking about joining the Brigade in future.”

Opal, aged 14, one of the course participants said: “You get to interact with new people and make new friends. It’s hard work and challenging but I enjoy it. It’s good to get out and do something active on a Wednesday night, instead of just standing around the streets”

Note to editors:
The two pilot Young Firefighter groups are based at Shoreditch Fire Station in Hackney and Erith Fire Station in Bexley.
Courses run every Wednesday evening and participants can take part for as long as they wish up to age 18.
A similar launch event for the Bexley course will take place on 28th February.
*Other London Fire Brigade youth engagement programmes include:
- LiFE – a 5 day course for young people who have offended, are at risk of offending or those that have been victims of crime.
- Juvenile Firesetters Intervention Scheme –advisors work with young people who have carried out fireplay or firesetting behaviour.
- Schools Team – advisors who visit schools to talk to classes about fire safety and the dangers of fire.
- The Princes’ Trust

Members of the media can obtain further information from the press office on:

telephone number: 020 8536 5922
email: press@london-fire.gov.uk