KIDS are first primary school pupils to work with fire brigade

KIDS as young as seven are being trained as mini firefighters by real East End crew members coming to their school.

By Else Kvist

KIDS as young as seven are being trained as 'mini firefighters' by real East End crew members coming to their school.

The children at Bygrove Primary School in Polar are said to the first primary pupils in Tower Hamlets to be working with their local fire station.

Twenty year three to six pupils at the school are visited weekly by firefighters from Poplar fire station, as part of a three-five week project to help them understand and respect the work of the fire service.

Crew manager Mick McCarthy and one of his firefighters have been running the lessons which see the children being divided into a green and a blue watch, each with their own crew manager. After mini roll calls and marching they have been learning about fire safety and the work of firefighters, climbing aerial ladders and getting to grips with everything from heat seeking equipment to fire extinguishers. The programme culminates in the children visiting Poplar Firestation.

The school's learning mentor Frances McLaughlin explained that the firefighters are used to working with secondary pupils and so-called 'hard to reach' teenagers, but that it was the first time they had worked with children this young.

She said: The kids get so excited when the firemen are coming. But they have really come to respect the work of the fire service in keeping their community safe. They now understand that they are being protected by these guys."

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The aim of the project is to make younger children respect their local services before any potential onset of disengagement and disrespect in their formative teenage years. The school has already completed a similar partnership with the Met Police.