19 August 2008
Young people in the Caerphilly county borough learned how setting fires in the countryside can be a right "pain in the grass" at a special event held recently.
An awareness-raising day, entitled "Pain In The Grass", was organised for local youngsters, and involved presentations, workshops and activities to engage and inform participants about the serious implications that starting fires can have.
The Youth Offending Service, together with Gwent Police, South Wales Fire and Rescue, and the Forestry Commission held the latest workshop at Cwmcarn Forest Drive.
The initiative is being run to help reduce the setting of deliberate forest and grass fires by 5% across the local area.
A clear example of the scale of the problem in this locality is that between April 1st and April 12th of last year, the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service responded to 154 deliberate fires within the Caerphilly county borough area.
Three workshops have now been held in the area over the last few months.
Caerphilly County Borough Council's cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Lyn Ackerman said, "These fires endanger lives and are also a huge drain on resources for the fire service and other local agencies. We want to send out a clear message about the serious consequences of starting grass fires, and these sessions are an excellent way of working with young people to help address the problem in the future."
PC Janine Kerslake, said: "We use the morning workshop as an opportunity to talk to the young people about the consequences of arson and then in the afternoon they can gain hands-on experience of coping with arson related scenarios to help drive the message home. Arson is an extremely serious crime that can have devastating repercussions to human life, property and the environment, as well as the possibility of a prison sentence for any offenders."
Crew Manager Simon Davies from Ebbw Vale fire station led the group on Friday afternoon with Kathryn Treherne (YOS) and Kyle Williams (Forestry Commission).
He said, "We gave these youngsters the chance to experience what it's like to be a fire-fighter tackling mountain fires, wearing fire kit and using experiencing how exhausting it is using the beaters. They worked in teams to carry out several tasks in the forest and we hope that the experience will make help them to make the right decisions when they're out with their friends on the mountains, ultimately deciding not to set any fires while they're there."
The young people involved in the event have been referred by the Youth Offending Service, YISP (Youth Inclusion Support Programme) and local partnership agencies.
For further information, please contact the Blackwood based Youth Offending Service on01495 235 623.
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