Adult arsonists are being targeted in a pioneering scheme aimed at reducing nuisance fires across the region.

Details of the highly successful programme, known as Fire-P, will be highlighted at a special training session hosted by Cleveland Fire Brigade next week (23 – 25 August).

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service have already had nearly 200 convicted firesetters on the scheme (a recognised alternative to sentencing) and not one has re-offended.

Fire-P (Firesettters Integrated Responsive Educational Programme) looks at motives, human behaviour and coping mechanisms and other aspects of forensic psychology in getting those convicted diverted away from arson.

The aim of the session attended by Cleveland Fire Brigade and neighbouring Fire Rescue Services, is to have staff trained to deliver the Fire-P programme.

Some 85% of Cleveland fire calls are related to deliberate fires – the highest in the country – and divert resources away from other emergencies where lives may be at risk.

In the first six months of this year (Jan to June 2021), there were nearly 2,200 deliberate fires, costing the local economy nearly £13m.

Serial arsonist Stefan Geary, 50, Furness Street, Hartlepool, was recently given an extra four month prison sentence after setting fire to St George’s Church Hall, South Bank, Middlesbrough, causing an estimated £150,000 damage.

Craig Strike, Head of Prevention, Protection & Engagement at Cleveland Fire Brigade said, “The Fire-P programme could potentially provide an alternative to sentencing that supports offenders to change their behaviour and in the process ensures the Brigade’s valuable resources can be focused in other areas rather than dealing with deliberate fires. This is a great addition to our prevention portfolio.”

The brigade already regularly runs courses to educate young people and their families who have had issues with fire setting to help them better understand the dangers of fire and support them to change their behaviour.

The sessions at Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Training and Admin Hub in Hartlepool were secured following close working between Cleveland and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. They will be delivered by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Services in conjunction with the University of Portsmouth. Staff from Northumberland, Durham & Darlington and Tyne & Wear Brigades are also attending.