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Young people are asked to help shape the future of Staffordshire fire service

By Cheadle Post and Times  |  Posted: January 30, 2014

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Children and young people are being given the chance to help shape the future of the fire service as part of a county-wide consultation.

Representatives from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service will be visiting youth groups and schools to find out how youngsters would like to interact and engage with the Service.

The consultation will start next week and it is hoped that the Children and Young People’s Strategy will be launched in late spring.

Experts at Staffordshire University have helped to develop the consultation.

They recommended a conversational approach to communicating where creativity and innovation is encouraged rather than using prescriptive methods of feedback such as questionnaires.

The Service has taken on board these views and has, in recent years, taken a more interactive approach to fire safety education.

Thousands of year six pupils in Stoke-on-Trent have participated in the hugely successful multi-agency Crucial Crew events.

The 10 and 11-year-olds discuss anti-social behaviour during the sessions along with the dangers of deliberately starting grass and other small fires, home fire safety and internet safety.

The ‘Flames aren’t Games’ campaign has also had a positive impact on young people across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

It includes a video, featuring a ‘Teenage Caveman’, and targets young fire-setters. The aim is to raise awareness of the consequences of deliberately starting blazes as well as the penalty you can face if convicted. To view the clip visit http://youtu.be/xINXFdZyh1M

Initiatives such as these have helped to achieve a 75 per cent reduction in grass fires, which are traditionally started by younger members of the community, over a two-year period.

In 2011/12 there were 1,720 incidents while in 2012/13 there were 424.

Partnerships Engagement Officer Dale Harrison, who is leading the consultation, said: “Young people can be incredibly innovative and offer a fresh outlook on how services could be improved to boost safety for the whole community. We want to tap into their creativity and use their ideas to help to shape the future of the fire service.

“This consultation also aims to learn from teenagers how they want us to engage with and educate them. There is no point in the Service using quantative methods of gathering information if they prefer qualitative ways of communicating.

“We are keen to reach out to a wide range of young people from across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and will be actively visiting schools and youth groups to meet and talk to as many youngsters as possible. They are the next generation and their input is absolutely vital in helping us to decide which direction to go in.

“We are committed to the principle that prevention is more effective and cheaper than cure which is why we need to get to the heart of our communities, ascertain their views and take action to implement them.”

In an emergency dial 999. For all other non-emergency enquiries contact: 08451 22 11 55 or log onto: www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk or www.direct.gov.uk/firekills.

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