Youngsters who start fires are to be highlighted in a new programme also designed for parents.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has teamed up with its East Sussex neighbours to launch a new programme of help for young ‘firesetters’, as they are known, and their families.
‘Firewise’ is a new joint initiative aimed at helping children and young people to understand the dangers of ‘firesetting’ and to reduce the number and impact of deliberate fires across Sussex.
Youth education officers from both fire services have spent 18 months working with a qualified education advisor to develop a new suite of interactive age-related resources for use right across Sussex.
Within both its operational and non-operational staff, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service now has a team of 18 Firewise advisors specially trained to visit young people in their home or school environment.
Safer Communities Manager for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service Nicki Peddle said: “We know that young people set fires for a variety of different reasons; it may be curiosity, frustration, attention seeking or something else. We work in a supportive and non-judgemental way to help them understand and address the circumstances that may lead them to set fires.
“Both fire services have been running a firesetter scheme for many years. However, by working closely with a skilled educational professional we’ve been able to develop a fantastic suite of new resources and training to support young people and their families.”
West Sussex resident, Paula Hayward, who recently used the Firewise service, said: “I needed some help with my son to educate him on the dangers of firesetting. I contacted my local fire station and received a call back from a specially trained officer.
“The fire officers were fantastic. They were extremely patient with him and talked to him on his level. In just two home visits they had a hugely positive impact on him.”