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London Fire Brigade co-hosts fire setting conference

London Fire Brigade and the Cognitive Centre Foundation (CCF) have held a conference on juvenile firesetting
London Fire Brigade has joint-hosted a conference on juvenile firesetting
London Fire Brigade and the Cognitive Centre Foundation (CCF) have co-hosted a conference on juvenile firesetting, attended by experts from all over the world.

The two-day event entitled ‘Working with Juvenile Firesetters - Risks, Rights and Resources' gave professionals the opportunity to discuss how best to work with children and adolescents with identified firesetting behaviour.

Dr David Kolko, Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Paediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine was the key-note speaker, launching the UK's first fire assessments to be used by practitioners working with juvenile firesetters.

The conference was chaired by Joanna Foster, manager of London Fire Brigade's Juvenile Firesetters Intervention Scheme (JFIS). JFIS was launched in 2001 and aims to tackle the problem of children setting fires, by working with young people and their families.

Joanna Foster said: "Children start to play with fire for a variety of reasons, ranging from natural curiosity to a cry for help and delinquent behaviour. Without help and guidance, firesetting behaviour can increase and lead to serious consequences such as injuries and fatalities and damage to homes, schools and property.

The conference has been an exciting opportunity for London's JFIS to build on our working relationship with Professor Kolko and CCF, whilst also furthering our working knowledge of this fascinating field. The varied disciplines and number of UK and overseas brigades attending the conference will lead to more children and families getting the expert help they need."

The Brigade's JFIS is recognised as one of the largest and most successful in the UK, and has dealt with over 2300 referrals to date. The scheme is also currently offering support to the Intelligence Liaison Unit of the Victoria Police, Australia, following the bush fires in February 2009 that claimed many lives.

London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner Andy Barrett said: "JFIS is a really important part of our work towards achieving the Brigade's overall aim to make Londoners safer. To share information and meet fellow experts from other countries can only enhance the excellent work we already do. Sadly some young people do demonstrate a fascination with fire, including playing with lighters and matches, but by working with young people as soon as this behaviour is identified we can prevent serious consequences."

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