Lessons in life saving

A group of offenders, who have been protecting Valley homes from mountain fires as part of their sentence, have been given lessons in life saving by fire fighters.

Six offenders being managed by the probation provider Wales Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) were put through their drill by officers from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service at a fire fighter for a day training course at Tonypandy Fire Station in the Rhondda.

Once they were kitted out with a uniform they were shown how to handle a fire hose and use a ladder before simulating the rescue of a casualty from a dark, cramped training building known as the ‘smoke house.’

As part of the session they were also given a presentation on the danger of deliberate grassfires. Rhondda Cynon Taf is one of the worst hit areas and last year there were more than 429 fires during the Easter school holidays alone, which led to birds and farm animals being killed and injured and put homes under threat.

The experience was organised as a thank you to the Community Payback teams, who have spent five weeks cutting fire breaks through the dry bracken, brambles and gorse behind houses in one of the most vulnerable mountainside areas in Trealaw.

The fire and rescue service has now offered to run the fire fighter for a day course for Community Payback teams from the Rhondda every month.

Mark Williams, station manager of the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service Fire Crime Unit, said: “We have been grateful for the help and support that Wales Community Rehabilitation Company have given by assisting us with our fire prevention project. They have worked tirelessly with great commitment and enthusiasm.

“We hope that giving them the opportunity to experience the work of the fire and rescue service will further enhance their future choices.”

Steve Cox, Community Payback Supervisor with Wales CRC, added: “The experience was inspirational for the group. All of the exercises helped them to realise that discipline and team work is essential to be a fire fighter. Talking to some of the full time fire fighters they realised that there are opportunities to improve their lives. Four of the six men taking part left wanting to find out more about becoming a retained fire fighter once their convictions are spent.”