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Last Updated: Thursday May 04 2006 14:59 GMT

Young firefighters stamp out arson

Young firefighters in Hartlepool
A trainee firefighting course for kids has been so successful that cases of arson in the north east have halved.

Cleveland Fire Brigade set up the scheme, which has been running since 2002, after discovering that half the deliberate fires in the area were being started by children under 15.

Rebecca Barratt, fire safety teacher, said: "Most of the fires in Cleveland are arson and the majority of those are started by young people.

"It's usually caused by anti-social behaviour and boredom, so if we can give them something else to do while also teaching them about the dangers of fires and why it's wrong to commit arson, that's a good thing."

Arson isn't just a problem in the north east though, with figures suggesting that across the UK a child starts a fire deliberately every hour of every day.

On the course in Cleveland, kids learn how dangerous fire can be, how much work it takes to repair the damage fire can do and they also get taught how to use the firefighting equipment.

One of the kids on the course, 13-year-old Dalton, explained why he got involved: "I know people who've been in fires, and they've come out of it really badly, and I want to stop that from happening."

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