11-year-old, Naomi Donnan, from Ballywalter Primary School, was the envy of her classmates when she got to spend the day as an honorary Firefighter with Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS).  

Naomi was the winner of the 'Smokebusters' design a bookmark competition, organised by the Ulster Cancer Foundation in conjunction with NIFRS. The competition was aimed at raising awareness among Primary School children about the harmful effects of smoking and the associated fire risks of smoking materials in the home. Naomi's bookmark was chosen as the winner and her prize was to spend the day with NIFRS experiencing life as a firefighter.    

Equipped with her own firefighting kit and with a special escort in a fire appliance, Naomi's action packed day involved a tour of NIFRS Regional Control Centre at their Headquarters in Lisburn where she got to see how real life 999 emergency calls are handled. She also had the opportunity to take part in drills and displays with Firefighters during their training sessions and got to meet a number of NIFRS Specialist Rescue Teams. 

Dale Ashford, Assistant Chief Fire Officer Safety Services, said: "Congratulations to Naomi on winning the Smokebusters competition. Naomi's bookmark highlighted the very real danger and fire safety risks associated with smoking in the home. In 2011 our firefighters attended 97 accidental fires caused by smoking materials. Sadly two people lost their lives, 35 people were injured and 19 people were rescued from these types of incidents. 

"Our partnership work with the Ulster Cancer Foundation provides us with an ideal opportunity to engage with Primary School pupils and to make them aware of how easily fires can start in the home from smoking materials such as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, ashtrays and matches. It also enables us to install good fire safety habits in the youngsters from an early age which hopefully they will carry with them through their teenage and adult lives.

"It was a pleasure having Naomi join us today as an honorary firefighter and we hope she got a good insight into life as a firefighter. We currently have 48 female firefighters working right across Northern Ireland and we are always encouraging more women to consider a career as a firefighter,  so who knows maybe someday we will see Naomi on a fire appliance for real."

Having spent the day with the firefighters Naomi Donnan said: "I had a brilliant day and my favourite parts were being out with the firefighters from the specialist rescue team and trying out the breathing apparatus."

Judith West, Cancer Prevention Officer, Ulster Cancer Foundation, said: "The Ulster Cancer Foundation is delighted to be working with NIFRS on this year's Smokebusters club competition.  We are grateful to them for providing such a fantastic prize. This has been a great way to highlight the very important message of smoke free homes to our 29,000 members in primary schools across Northern Ireland.

"Breathing in someone else's cigarette smoke is part of daily life for some local children, but through our Smokebusters Club we emphasise the benefits of staying smoke free and the importance of avoiding second-hand smoke.

"Many congratulations to Naomi, whose prize-winning design conveys our smoke free homes message so brilliantly."


Photo: Naomi is pictured with Assistant Chief Fire Officer Safety Services Dale Ashford and Firefighter Suzanne Fleming during her action packed day with NIFRS.  


For more information visit www.nifrs.org 


Posted May 9th, 2012 at 0945 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: andrew.lynch@pavpub.com