London Fire Brigade

Camden and Westminster reach LIFE milestone

06 April 2010

A successful scheme run by the London Fire Brigade in Camden and Westminster to improve the self-esteem of young people and reduce anti-social behaviour has celebrated its 50th  Pass Out Parade.

The Local Intervention Fire Education (LIFE) programme is aimed at young people between the ages of 13 and 17. Many of those taking part in the scheme have offended, are at risk of offending or may have been victims of crime.

During the week long course and under the supervision of real firefighters the youngsters carried out a number of fire brigade related activities, including the use of ladders, breathing apparatus, casualty rescue techniques, hose line practice and problem solving tasks – all of which are designed to improve motivation, confidence and team building skills. They also learned about the consequences of behaviour like arson or making hoax 999 calls. The challenging week culminated in a passing out parade in front of friends, family and carers at Euston Fire Station on Good Friday (2 April).

Since it was established in Camden and Westminster five years ago, over 500 young people have completed LIFE courses there.

Deputy Commissioner of London Fire Brigade Rita Dexter said: “Having the 50th group of young people complete a LIFE course in Camden and Westminster is a significant achievement for the London Fire Brigade, the local community and of course for the young people themselves. This is a great milestone and testament to the success of the scheme.

“The LIFE programme has repeatedly shown that it has had a positive effect, not only on those taking part, but also on the communities that the Brigade serves. It gives young people an increased awareness of what the fire service does, a real sense of achievement and helps to develop their self esteem. This then makes available a wide range of opportunities for these young people in the wider community.”

Notes to editors

•Since it began in Tower Hamlets in 2002 the Brigade has run around 400 LIFE courses to the benefit of around 4000 young people across London.

•There are now nine LIFE Teams across the capital taking referrals from agencies and working with young people from most London boroughs.

•The LIFE teams are based in Barking and Dagenham; Newham; Tower Hamlets; Islington; Brent; Sutton; Lambeth; Bexley and Camden

•Because of the success of LIFE in London, seven other Fire Brigades in the UK are now using the scheme. It is also being adopted by New Zealand Fire Service.

•Evaluations have shown that participants with a history of offending or anti-social behaviour are less likely to engage in this behaviour after taking part.

•Hoax calls and deliberate fires are decreasing across London, and LIFE has helped drive those figures