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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Houses Set on Fire for Youth Project

31/03/2011

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service are to set fire to two disused houses in Stoke-on-Trent as part of a groundbreaking project.

"Firefighters will be on hand once the fires are set and then once we have the video footage we need they will extinguish the fires."

Youth Intervention Co-ordinator, Lev Dubil

The Service will set fire to two semi-detached properties ear-marked for demolition on Lea Place in Meir, this Friday. The fires will be 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’re filming 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 will then spread 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 are ear-marked for demolition, as part of the council’s plans to regenerate housing estates, and they are in the middle of a cleared area, away from occupied properties."

The City Council have removed the boarding from the properties and Service volunteers have decorated and dressed the houses with donated furniture to set the scenes for the filming. Auditions have been held for actors and actresses who will appear in the film.

Lev Dubil continued: "Firefighters will be on hand once the fires are set and then once we have the video footage we need they will extinguish the fires.

"Nearby residents have been informed and the area will be cordoned off from the public for safety reasons. However if people who want to find out more about the project or just want some general fire safety advice we’ll have officers based at The Square Community Centre in Meir throughout the day."

A vacant cubicle at Stafford Hospital will also be used as part of the filming, when one of the perpetrators in the film goes to hospital suffering from burns.

Maggie Oldham, Chief Operating Officer at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We are happy to be able to assist our colleagues in the fire service with this project – any initiative which can help to reduce deaths and injuries is obviously something we are delighted to support."

As well as the filming for the youth intervention DVD the Service is also using 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 will also be using the exercise for scientific research on the temperatures reached and the amount of carbon the fires produce.