Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has set fire to two disused houses, ear-marked for demolition, in Stoke-on-Trent as part of a groundbreaking project.

The fires were filmed and will feature in a youth intervention DVD being produced.

Youth Intervention Co-ordinator Lev Dubil said: "We wanted to produce a hard-hitting DVD to show young people, who may potentially start fires. A lot of our youth intervention work focuses on demonstrating the consequences of actions, which is exactly what this DVD will do. We filmed various scenarios including crews being sent to a hoax call shortly before a serious house fire breaks out and an incident in which a teenager sets fire to a wheelie bin, which then spreads to a house."

The service approached Stoke-on-Trent City Council to see if they could use the houses, when they found out that the properties were going to be demolished.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Assistant Director for Housing services Val Bourne said: "The fire service approached us about this innovative project, and we were happy to help. The properties identified were ear-marked for demolition, as part of the council's plans to regenerate housing estates, and they were in the middle of a cleared area, away from occupied properties."

Stoke-on-Trent based film company, Blue Baboon, have been commissioned to produce the film. Prior to the filming the City Council removed the boarding from the properties and fire and rescue service volunteers decorated and dressed the houses with donated furniture to set the scenes. Auditions were held for actors and actresses and filming took place over five days, with the final day culminating in the actual fire scenes.

Head of Risk Reduction Ian Sloss added: "If we are going to get the dangers of fire setting across to young people they really need to be able to relate to the situation. Creating this DVD has given us the perfect opportunity to do just that - young actors and actresses feature and because we have actually set fire to the buildings, the scenarios are very realistic. We look forward to seeing the final DVD and delivering it those young people who are demonstrating fire setting behaviours.

Some of the fires were set by fire officers, whilst others were set remotely using pyrotechnics. Safety briefings were given to all those filming and once the necessary footage had been captured, firefighters then extinguished the fires. Nearby residents were informed of the exercise and the area was cordoned off, however fire officers were on hand in the local community centre to chat to residents wanting to find out more about the project.

As well as the filming for the youth intervention DVD the service also used the opportunity to film the effectiveness of different types of sprinkler systems on real fire scenarios, for use in future awareness raising events. Students from Lancashire University also used the exercise for scientific research on the temperatures reached and the amount of carbon the fires produced.


Posted: 0915am, 27.04.11,