life2The award winning Local Intervention Fire Education (LIFE) scheme recently celebrated its 500th course. The programme, which sees young people taking part in fire brigade related activities, was originally set up in Tower Hamlets in 2002 to reduce anti-social behaviour directed at fire crews.

Since it began, nearly 5,000 young Londoners have benefited from the scheme and there are now nine LIFE centres across the capital taking referrals from agencies and working with young people from most London boroughs.

At a recent meeting London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority took the decision to make the LIFE scheme a fully funded Brigade programme with its own dedicated £1 million budget.

Chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, Cllr Brian Coleman AM, FRSA said: "Our LIFE programme has helped put thousands of youngsters on the right track since it began. That's why it is fantastic news for Londoners that the brigade is funding this flagship youth scheme to the tune of £1 million". 

"We now have one of the lowest rates of attacks on firefighters in the country. Hoax calls and deliberate fires are also decreasing across London, and LIFE has played a big part in driving those figures down." 

Activities carried out by teenagers on the LIFE programme include the use of ladders, breathing apparatus, casualty rescue techniques and hose line practice - all of which are designed to improve motivation, confidence and team building skills. Evaluations have shown that young people with a history of offending or anti-social behaviour are less likely to engage in this sort of behaviour after taking part.

The LIFE centres are based in Barking and Dagenham; Newham; Tower Hamlets; Islington; Brent; Sutton; Lambeth; Bexley and Camden. The success of LIFE in London has paved the way for similar schemes across the UK and seven other fire and rescue services are now using the scheme. It is also being adopted by New Zealand Fire Service.

The 500th group of young people to complete a LIFE course took part in a passing out parade at Shadwell Fire station - the location of the first ever LIFE course in front of London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson, Deputy Commissioner Rita Dexter and Chairman and Leader of London Fire and Emergency planning Authority Cllr Brian Coleman.


Posted: 15.56pm, 23.03.11