London Fire Brigade

Capital’s youngsters rise to Life challenge

19 August 2010

The capital’s youngsters have been pitting their speed, strength, teamwork and firefighting skills against each other in a borough-wide London Fire Brigade competition.

The gruelling ‘London LIFE Challenge’ was held at the Brigade's training centre in Southwark in front of over 200 spectators.

Ten teams representing 13 London boroughs competed against each other in a series of gym based exercises before donning fire gear and breathing apparatus to carry out firefighting tasks such as climbing stairs to haul aloft a hose reel.

The competitors were all graduates of the Brigade’s Local Intervention Fire Education (LIFE) programme which teaches young people firefighting skills alongside real firefighters to improve self – esteem and reduce anti-social behaviour.

To represent their borough in the competition, the finalists had to beat off stiff competition from around 100 other LIFE graduates in trials held at the Brigade’s training centre in Southwark.

London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Community Safety Andy Hickmott said: “Our LIFE scheme has made a positive difference to the lives of thousands of young people and their communities. It fosters a sense of social responsibility, boosts self-confidence and has helped us to reduce fires in the capital by giving us the opportunity to talk to youngsters about the consequences of anti-social behaviour such as deliberate fire-setting.”

“The enthusiasm and commitment shown by the young people taking part in the London Life Challenge was second to none.  Each and every one of the finalists were a credit to their borough and a testament to the success of the LIFE programme.”

The final positions were:
1st Overall – Team Plaistow (Newham LIFE Team)
2nd Overall – Team Clerkenwell (Islington LIFE Team)
3rd Overall – Team Wembley (Brent LIFE Team)
The Borough LIFE teams taking part were: Barking and Dagenham; Bexley, Brent, Camden and Westminster, Islington, Lambeth and Southwark, Merton, Sutton and Kingston, Newham, Tower Hamlets.

Notes to editors:
• Since it began in Tower Hamlets in 2002 the Brigade has run around 500 LIFE courses to the benefit of around 5000 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
• Hoax calls and deliberate fires are decreasing across London, and LIFE has helped drive those figures
• 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.