Angus Fire Academy reaches 10 year milestone

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Fire Academy is a joint multi-agency initiative aimed at reducing fire raising and anti-social behaviour

Fire Academy 2

A multi-agency project aimed at reducing fire raising and anti-social behaviour in Angus is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Fire Academy is a joint project between Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Angus Council’s Communities Team, Tayside Council on Alcohol and Police Scotland.

The scheme targets young people who may have a history of fire setting or anti social behaviour and aims to reduce fire setting incidents in the region.

It also aims to highlight personal safety, the effects and cost of vandalism and seeks to encourage and support the personal development of young people. It is hoped the project will encourage them to become responsible citizens.

The group met at Monikie and took part in team building activities during the first day. This enabled the team to get to know each other in an informal and fun way and allowed them to gel and work hard on the programme.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Watch Manager, Garry Brown, who is part of the Angus Community Fire Safety section, said: "The young people are then invited to take part in what's called a 'residential'.

"This is delivered within a youth work context in a residential based setting at St Drostans, Tarfside and various Fire Stations throughout Angus. The Academy offered the young people the opportunity to engage in a very specific programme that would support them in changing their attitudes to fire safety and to ultimately, evoke personal change around fire setting behaviour."

He added: "The programme was based around skills needed to be a firefighter and included items such as hose running, moving in smoke and darkness and extinguishing fires.

"The group of youngsters were supported in this by firefighters from Scottish Fire and Rescue Service who mixed freely with the group and this engagement started to build relationships which resulted in both students and firefighters gaining a mutual respect for each other."

The residential aspect to the project was the key strength of the event. It allowed the youngsters to grow as a team and gave firefighters the opportunity to both engage meaningfully with the young people whilst being able to deliver an uninterrupted programme.

Garry added: "One positive outcome is the re-engagement of two student mentors, from last year’s Fire Academy who returned to mentor and support the students."

The final passing out parade took place at Forfar Fire Station, in front of proud parents and invited guests, including local councillors and Local Risk Manager Graeme Nicoll, who issued certificates to the successful candidates.