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London Fire Brigade said today that it is set to train over one thousand of its firefighters and staff in how to help people living with dementia in the capital, with a view to becoming one of the most dementia-friendly fire services in the world.
The Brigade is working with the Alzheimer’s Society, which recently announced plans to make London the world’s first dementia friendly capital city – a scheme which is being supported by the Mayor of London.
The announcement comes during Dementia Action Week, which runs from 21-25 May.
The Brigade said that people with dementia are particularly vulnerable to fire, which is why it is working with the Alzheimer’s Society to become a dementia friendly organisation, and training as many staff as possible to become ‘Dementia Friends.’
There are currently 72,000 people living with dementia in London. The Brigade is working with the charity to raise awareness of dementia − an incurable condition caused by diseases of the brain which over time seriously impairs the ability to live independently. Staff will become Dementia Friends at a series of workshops where they will learn more about the condition and how to make it easier to support those living with dementia.
The Brigade’s Deputy Commissioner and Director of Operations, Tom George, said:
“People living with dementia are at an increased risk of having fires and we see situations like people forgetting they’ve left cooking on or dropping lit cigarettes. We hope that by training as many of our staff as possible about dementia that we can work to protect some of the capital’s most vulnerable people.
“As well as training staff to be Dementia Friends, we are also offering free home fire safety visits to everyone living with dementia in London. Firefighters will visit their homes, offering fire safety advice and fitting smoke alarms where needed.
“We hope that this work will make us one of the most dementia friendly fire service in the world.”
The Brigade said that its Commissioner, Dany Cotton, and members of the Brigade’s top management team, including Tom George, have already taken the dementia awareness training and hope that large numbers of the Brigade’s staff will soon follow.
Some fire stations in London have already joined local dementia alliances, working with businesses and other public sector organisations to improve the lives of people living with dementia in local communities.