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Firefighter wins award for Potential Arson Target database to identify London's 'red hot' buildings

Manager John Carpenter, based at Dowgate fire station, at the award ceremony
Manager John Carpenter, based at Dowgate fire station, has won a London Fire Brigade special achievement award

The 'Potential Arson Target' database (PAT) aims to identify 'red hot' buildings across London which are at a high risk of being destroyed by arson.

Watch Manager John Carpenter, based at Dowgate fire station, has won a London Fire Brigade special achievement award for developing the innovative new project.

Buildings at risk include those that have been refused planning permission, buildings on protected land and pubs which are being or have been closed down. They are seen as high risk because they are usually empty. Some unscrupulous individuals see the potential of the buildings and think that by burning them down they can then be re-built and turned into lucrative new developments. They can also be at risk of being burnt down by vandals or squatters.

Using the PAT database, John and his colleagues, aim to pinpoint these premises before they are destroyed. The information is then sent to each fire station so firefighters can familiarise themselves with the 'at risk' buildings. They are then better prepared when fires do occur in these buildings, thus reducing the risk to firefighters and members of the public.

John, 39, who lives in Chigwell, said: "It's great to win this award - it was totally unexpected! I'm so proud that my project is now being rolled across the whole Brigade. West Yorkshire Fire Service have also now adopted the scheme - it's unbelievable and a real achievement for me and the team."

Using the Potential Arson Target database (PAT), John and his colleagues aim to pinpoint endagered premises before they are destroyed

Ray Watkinson, Station Manager at Woodford Fire Station, who nominated John for the award, said: "John's creativity has been the driving force in implementing this project. It has already benefitted firefighters in terms of their safety."

The Brigade is working closely with borough councils, the Metropolitan Police and the Association of British Insurers to ensure that as many high risk properties are logged as possible. The Brigade will offer advice to people who have had planning permission refused in order that they are aware of the need to secure their buildings to protect them from arson. The PAT project has so far been rolled out across 11 London boroughs and it is hoped that it will be rolled out across London by spring 2010.

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