Firefighters have shared dramatic accounts of how their colleagues were attacked while keeping communities safe in a series of talks to children across Tyne and Wear.
Over the past three months firefighters from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have visited seven secondary schools in the area to talk to the young people about anti-social behaviour (ASB) and the life-threatening risks of setting deliberate fires.
The hour-long sessions have been experienced by nearly 800 young people aged between 11 and 12-years-old at schools in Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside and Sunderland.
The candid presentation being delivered to the Year 7 pupils is entitled “Choices and Consequences” and features real life case studies, how to handle peer pressure, respecting your emergency services, and the consequences of arson.
The latest school to benefit from the sessions has been Gosforth Junior High Academy in Newcastle, where over 180 young people will have taken part in the workshops before the close of the school year.
Last week two officers from our Prevention and Education team, Tommy Richardson and Jonathan Colclough, went in to the classroom to speak with the students.
Louis Lawson, Assistant Principal, Gosforth Junior High Academy, said: “The presentation highlighted to our students how making a decision to cause deliberate fires could have a ripple effect on services and society; and how important it is to think before they act as they realise the potential consequences of their actions.”
Mr Lawson talks about the importance and benefits of having the interactive sessions in school. He said: “The face-to-face interactions create a personal connection between the young people and the firefighters.
“This connection can enhance the impact of the information shared, making it more memorable and relatable. The sessions also allow for direct questions-and-answers where the students can ask questions and engage in discussions which is invaluable for their personal development.”
In the run up to Bonfire Night the Fire Service, as part of its Darker Nights campaign, delivered 45 fire safety sessions to 25 schools across the county.
And on the back of this, TWFRS recorded a 15 per cent decrease in deliberate secondary fires on Bonfire Night compared to last year, with no major disorder of note.
Station Manager Jonathan Ramanayake, of the Prevention and Education Department at TWFRS, said: “We always regard education and awareness as being an important part of our armoury when it comes to tackling anti-social behaviour.
“We feel it is imperative to talk directly to the young people within their own environment, and inform them in an honest and frank way about the dangers of deliberate fire-setting and its repercussions.
“One of the points that we make is that we can’t be in two places at once, which means if our firefighters are putting out a deliberate fire then their time is being wasted – where they could’ve been saving a person’s life in a house fire or a road traffic collision.
“Also in relation to anti-social behaviour the young people who unfortunately decide to embark on verbally and, in some cases physically abusing emergency service crews represent only a small part of the local community.
“But it’s crucial to speak with the students as the content they experience can have a massive impact on their lives and to the lives of others.”
If you would like any of our firefighters to deliver the “Choices and Consequences” presentation to Year 7 pupils at your school or community group then please send an initial email to Education and Engagement Manager, Sarah Schofield by messaging Sarah.Schofield@twfire.gov.uk