YOUNG people from North Yorkshire have benefited from a fire service training course aimed at changing the behaviour of those at risk of offending.

The county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan, has praised the Local Intervention Fire Education (LIFE) scheme, which addresses the problems of young people, aged between 13 and 17, particularly those who have offended, are at risk of offending or have been victims of crime. It highlights the consequences of anti-social behaviour and teaches discipline, fire safety awareness, life skills and values.

The course is run by North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and has received funding from the police commissioner.

One teenager to take part, Josh Barter, learnt how to rescue someone from a burning building during a five-day training course.

The 16-year-old was just one of eight young people from North Yorkshire to get a taste of life as a firefighter.

After committing a minor offence, Josh was given the option to take part in a LIFE course as an alternative to receiving a caution. After just five days, he said that the impact it had on his behaviour was astonishing.

He said: “As well as practical firefighting skills, the experience taught me about teamwork, communication, and it changed my perspective on life. It made me look at my life choices and the consequences of my actions, so that I now have a different outlook on my behaviour.

“Spending time with firefighters has affected me and helped me to see things differently. I think this course was hugely worthwhile and I would recommend it to anyone.”

The latest course took place at Harrogate Fire Station where the youngsters learnt how to listen and obey commands, operate breathing apparatus, use ladders and perform basic hose drills. And on the final day, they were given the opportunity to show off their new skills in front of family members during a passing out parade.

Julia said: “Supporting local communities with particular problems has always been at the heart of what I do, and sometimes just a little help at the right time can have a life changing effect. I’m really pleased that the young people who took part in the LIFE course enjoyed it and, more importantly, learnt a lot. These courses really can help young people, who are at risk of taking the wrong path in life, to see a brighter future for themselves and I’m delighted that I can support them through my Community Safety Services Fund. By helping individuals avoid criminality, we are helping keep people safe and feel safe.”

Mick Dobson, lead Instructor of the LIFE course, said: “To see the difference this course makes in just five days is astonishing. As well as seeing them enjoy it, it really changes their behaviour and teaches them life skills as well as improving their confidence and self-esteem.”

Any agencies who would like to make a referral should contact the NYFRS Community Safety Team on 01609-780150.